Massey ex-CEO takes 5th in explosion probe

Dec. 16, 2010 at 2:00 AM

WASHINGTON, Dec. 16 (UPI) -- The former head of Massey Energy has invoked the Fifth Amendment and declined to testify at a hearing on an explosion at a West Virginia coal mine.

West Virginia and federal mine safety agencies are holding a joint investigation into the blast in April at Massey's Upper Big Branch mine. The explosion killed 29 miners.

A spokeswoman for the U.S. Mine Safety and Health Administration said Don Blankenship, scheduled to appear Tuesday, exercised his right to avoid self-incrimination, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported Wednesday.

Blankenship resigned this month as Massey's chief executive officer. After the disaster in Montcoal, the worst in many years in a U.S. mine, he criticized MSHA, disputing its tentative findings on the cause of the explosion.

He has a longstanding reputation for taking a hard line against regulation and environmental critics, the newspaper noted.

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