Twenty five confirmed deaths and four unaccounted for after what many believe was a methane blast inside the mine.
Last year, MSHA ordered the mine closed 29 times to correct problems found by inspectors, said Stricklin. He did not know why each citation was issued or how long the mine was forced to close each time, but closure times can vary widely.
"Any time you issue a D order, it's a very bad condition," Stricklin said. "I don't want to call it unusual, but it's a serious condition."
At the sprawling coal mine where 25 perished in an explosion this week, regulators found that dirty air was being directed into an escapeway where fresh air should be. An emergency air system was flowing in the wrong direction, which could leave workers without fresh air in their primary escape route.
Terry Moore, the mine foreman, told officials that he was aware of one of the problems found during a January inspection and that it had been occurring for about three weeks.
The air-flow problems are among a string of safety violations that federal inspectors found in the months and days leading up to the deadliest mining disaster in more than a quarter-century.
"Mr. Moore engaged in aggravated conduct constituting more than ordinary negligence in that he was aware of the condition," the Mine Safety and Health Administration wrote in fining the company a combined $130,000.
Massey subsidiary Performance Coal Co., continued to rack up citations until the day of the blast. MSHA inspectors ticketed the mine Monday over inadequate maps of escape routes and an improper splice of electrical cable on a piece of equipment.
Now get a load of this,
Neither violation the day of the blast was life-threatening, said Massey spokesman Jeff Gillenwater.
There is a hell of a lot more to this story.
There is very disturbing pattern here which can be found when you see that Massey has forty one other mines that are operated in this manner.
Massey Energy — the Virginia-based coal giant that owns the Upper Big Branch mine, the site of Monday’s tragedy — also controls 41 other underground coal mines currently active in Appalachia. Investigators have cited those projects for 2,074 safety violations since the start of the year, according to federal documents. The citations run a spectrum, but hundreds charge mine operators with failing to maintain air quality detectors, failing to ensure proper ventilation, allowing combustible material to accumulate, and a host of other infractions related to miner safety.
There is much, much more damning evidence here.
As it is, from right here, I would say that at least twenty five charges of Pre Meditated Murder are called for.