Howard Berkes Howard Berkes is a correspondent for the NPR Investigations Unit.
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Massey Eyes Methane As Cause Of Mine Blast

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Don L. Blankenship, chairman and chief executive officer of Massey Energy Company (left), watches as protesters disrupt a luncheon at the National Press Club, where he spoke on Thursday. Wayne Huang/NPR hide caption

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Wayne Huang/NPR

Methane monitors are mounted on 30-foot-long continuous miners like this one, and other mining machines, to warn coal miners about dangerous levels of explosive methane gas. File photo hide caption

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File photo

Methane monitors are mounted on 30-foot-long continuous miners like this one because methane gas collects in pockets near the roofs of mines. File photo hide caption

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File photo

Clay Mullins (left), brother of mine disaster victim Rex Mullins, listens as Upper Big Branch miner Stanley "Goose" Stewart tells the House Education and Labor Committee that the mine "was a ticking time bomb" because of problems with ventilation and explosive methane and coal dust. Jon C. Hancock/AP hide caption

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Jon C. Hancock/AP

Mine workers stand at the entrance of the Upper Big Branch coal mine on April 9, a few days after an explosion killed 29 men. Matt Sullivan/Getty Images hide caption

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Matt Sullivan/Getty Images

Mine Owner, Safety Agency Face Federal Inquiry

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FBI Probing U.S. Officials And Massey, Owner Of W. Va. Mine Where 29 Died

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