Massey disputes findings on mine explosion

Jan. 29, 2011 at 12:19 AM
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WASHINGTON, Jan. 29 (UPI) -- A large leak of methane or natural gas caused a deadly explosion in a West Virginia coal mine, Massey Energy said Friday, contradicting federal investigators.

In a conference call with reporters and meetings with relatives of the 29 miners who died at the Upper Big Branch Mine, company officials argued poor safety practices were not responsible for the April 2010 blast, The New York Times reported.

Massey Vice President Shane Harvey, who is also the general counsel, did not claim the Mine Safety and Health Administration overlooked evidence. In a report released last week, the agency blamed the explosion on a build-up of coal dust.

"We all have access to the same evidence, so I guess reasonable minds can disagree," he said. "The government drew its conclusions -- ours are different. I can't tell you why. I can just tell you they are."

The agency said Friday there is no evidence of a large gas leak in the mine. Massey said coal dust found after the explosion was a product of the blast and not its cause.

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