How The Upper Big Branch Blast Happened & Mapping The Loss
Thirteen months after the Upper Big Branch coal mine explosion, a group of investigators identified a likely cause. This interactive map illustrates the explosion scenario described by an independent investigative team led by former federal mine safety chief Davitt McAteer. The illustrations are not to scale.
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How The Blast Happened & Mapping The Loss
Locations on "Mapping the Loss" include Headgate 22, the area where Dean Jones and his crew were working when the blast hit April 5. The Longwall Face is the position of the 1,000-foot longwall mining machine. The space between the Longwall Face and the Longwall Stop is a coal seam waiting to be mined. The mined-out area is a portion of the coal seam that was already mined.
Source: NPR sources; Massey Energy; Mine Safety and Health Administration; Governor's Independent Investigation Panel
Credit: Photos by AP, The Charleston Gazette and John F. Thomas; Interactive by Nelson Hsu, Howard Berkes, Robert Benincasa and Alicia Cypress /NPR
November 28, 2012 David C. Hughart, former president of a Massey Energy subsidiary, is pleading guilty. The charges relate to a corporate culture that investigators say contributed to the nation's worst mine disaster in 40 years. Twenty nine miners died at one of Massey's West Virginia mines in a 2010 explosion.
October 12, 2012 United Mine Workers officials suspect the Obama administration doesn't want to move forward on the new rules during the presidential campaign. The federal mine safety chief says the process takes time.
June 1, 2012 Citations issued by the Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) say managers at one mine failed to evacuate a section that was enveloped in thick smoke generated by a malfunctioning conveyor belt. The company disputes that finding.
May 24, 2012 Dozens of federal mine safety inspectors descended into 43 coal mines in three Appalachian states Wednesday. The mines are now owned by Alpha Natural Resources, which absorbed Massey Energy after a 2010 mine disaster in West Virginia.
April 5, 2012 On April 5, 2010, an explosion killed 29 men at the Upper Big Branch mine. Today, families will remember those who died. Meanwhile, some are pressing a lawsuit against executives of the company that ran the mine. Its new owners are sealing the mine.
February 23, 2012 While a state review of the 2010 disaster that killed 29 coal miners isn't as pointed in assigning blame as some other reports, it does single out weaknesses in state laws that make it difficult to hold those responsible accountable.
February 22, 2012 Federal prosecutors in Charleston, W.Va., have filed the most serious criminal charges yet in the investigation of the April, 2010, coal mine explosion that left 29 mine workers dead.
December 9, 2011 A final report on the April 2010 fatal explosion at Upper Big Branch coal mine not only blames Massey Energy for the disaster but exposes regulation failures within the federal Mine Safety and Health Administration.
December 7, 2011 After issuing a scathing report and reaching a $209 million settlement, officials are moving ahead on an internal probe of the agency that regulates mines and a federal criminal investigation of the disaster that killed 29 miners.