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June 29, 2011

Coal Execs Kept Two Sets of Records

The aftermath of the 2010 Upper Big Branch coal mine disaster at the Massey Energy site in Raleigh County, West Virginia that killed 29 miners took a new twist and turn late yesterday. Federal investigators revealed that Massey kept two sets of records -- one for federal safety regulators, and one internal-only book of records that had the real information on the company's safety and health problems. Between faking safety examinations, obstructing investigations, and labeling the Upper Big Branch tragedy a natural disaster, this piece of news is one more thing on Massey's long list of insidious and contemptible behavior. Get more on the story from NPR and the New York Times.

Update: Since this news came out, Ken Ward, Jr. of Coal Tattoo late this afternoon reported that Massey's inconsistent record keeping was more than likely a result of sloppy record transferring rather than nefarious and purposeful conduct. He goes on to write, "The issue here, then, is this: Were mine examinations at Upper Big Branch inadequate, so that hazards were not identified, recorded and fixed? Or perhaps were hazards ignored, and the records falsified? Falsifying the books is a felony, and the most serious criminal violation currently on the books under federal mine safety law."

-- Brian Foley

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