CHARLESTON, W.Va., Nov. 13 (UPI) -- The former head of Massey Energy, Don Blankenship, was indicted Thursday on federal charges for a West Virginia mine blast that killed 29 people in 2010.
Blankenship, the former CEO who oversaw the Upper Big Branch South mine in Montcoal, W.Va., was indicted by a federal grand jury for conspiracy to violate mandatory federal mine safety and health standards, conspiracy to impede federal mine safety officials, making false statements to the Securities and Exchange Commission, and securities fraud.
Throughout Jan. 1 2008, to April 9, 2010, "Blankenship himself closely managed [the Upper Big Branch South mine], the coal from which was critical to Massey's financial performance," the indictment read.
"Blankenship knew that [the mine] was committing hundreds of safety-law violations every year and that he had the ability to prevent most of the violations that [the mine] was committing," the document continued. "Yet he fostered and participated in an understanding that perpetuated [the mine's] practice of routine safety violations, in order to produce more coal, avoid the costs of following safety laws and make more money."
Methane gas and coal dust exploded in the mine on April 5, 2010, killing 29 people in what is considered the worst mining disaster in the United States in more than 40 years.
Blankenship was replaced as CEO of Massey Energy by the end of 2010.