Bring the air with you
“They used to say if you go to Headgate 22, bring the air with you ‘cause there ain’t none up here,” said Bobbie Pauley, the only woman employed as an underground miner at the Upper Big Branch mine at the time of the April 5 explosion. When Pauley said “they,” she was referring to experienced miners like her fiancé, Howard “Boone” Payne.
Payne, a roof bolter on the Headgate 22 dayshift crew, stood 6’5” tall and had flaming red hair. Friends described him as a “man’s man.” Pauley said he was honest and direct -- he said what he meant and meant what he said.1
A belt fireboss who retired in August 2009 after 43 years in the mines, offered a similar description of his friend. “Boone was a fellow that always said exactly what he thought,” he said.
And what Boone Payne thought was that there wasn’t enough air on Headgate 22. He complained to a number of people about the problem. “He would talk about how they just didn’t have any air up there,” the fireboss said.
Roof bolter Michael Ellison recounted a confrontation between Payne and UBB management during the miners’ annual refresher training class on February 23, 2010. Ellison said Payne asked Performance Coal Company President Chris Blanchard where the crew would be working after they finished the Headgate 22 panel.
The response was flippant, Ellison recalled, something to the effect that the miners would be on the panel until Christmas because they weren’t running enough coal. “That made Boone mad, and he stood up, and he said, ‘Well,’ he said, ‘If you f---’n think you can do any better … you come up there with bad top, no air, and see what you can do.’ He was very straightforward. I don’t think they [management officials] knew what to say.”2
Dennis Sims, who previously had worked as a bolter on the Headgate, said he and Payne talked with Blanchard about the lack of air. “We all knew we didn’t have enough air,” Sims said.3
Boone Payne may have been more vocal and direct than most, but he wasn’t the only miner who was concerned about the airflow on Headgate 22. Morris Hulgan, a miner with 28 years of experience, said the ventilation “was terrible.” There were times, Hulgan said, when the section boss would pull out his anemometer to measure the airflow “and it wouldn’t even turn… He pulled us off the section -- and it was like that all the time. You might have a little [air] … and then all of a sudden, you wouldn’t have nothing.”4
Joshua Massey, a roof bolter on the Headgate 22 swing shift, said simply, “There wasn’t no air. It’s hard to ventilate a place when you ain’t got nothing to ventilate it with.”5
The lack of air on Headgate 22 was not an occasional problem; it was chronic. “They constantly had air problems,” said Brian “Hammer” Collins, a section foreman on Tailgate 22.6 The problems were “very common knowledge,” according to Larry Richmond, an electrician on Headgate 22 who had 28 years of experience.7
Gina Jones said her husband, Dean, the section foreman, “would come home practically every day telling me he had no air...”8
Mrs. Jones said when she asked her husband if he told his bosses about the problem, he replied that he had talked about it with mine superintendents Everett Hager and Gary May, as well as with Blanchard. “He told Chris Blanchard, you know, a dozen times that I know of,” Mrs. Jones said. She said her husband told her Blanchard would come up to the section for a short period of time and then leave.9
For about six months leading up to the explosion, Dean Jones came home so exhausted, “I’d look over at the dinner table and he would be asleep,” Mrs. Jones said.10 At one point her husband told her he shut down the section for lack of air, and “Chris Blanchard called the dispatcher and told him to tell Dean if he didn’t get the section running in so many minutes he would be fired,” she said. Being fired was a scary prospect for a man whose 14-year-old son had a serious illness. “Chris Blanchard knows that my son has cystic fibrosis, he knew my husband needed the insurance and would have to work,” she said.11
Michael Ellison had been scheduled to work on the April 5 dayshift crew, but, in what he now considers a lucky break, he woke up early that morning gasping for breath. “My blood pressure was sky high. I told my wife … I don’t feel good today. And I called in and took a personal day. That’s the only reason I’m here,” he said.12
Ellison, a roof bolter who had been assigned to Headgate 22 early in 2010,13 said when he started work there, some of the crew members told him he should bring a big supply of water with him because there was no air, and it got really hot. “They told me I better grab me a gallon of water,” he said. “And I said, ‘No, I’ve got plenty of drinks in my bucket.’ And I got up there, and I couldn’t believe it. It literally felt like you were melting. We got up there, and usually we would get started by about 15 after 7 of the morning, and by 8:30, all of us looked like we had been standing out in a rainstorm, just soaking wet.”14
Ellison said the airflow to Headgate 22 was adversely affected when a new beltline was being put in at the mother drive. “They had our air so messed up at different times that nobody knew where actual air was, you know, coming in from,” he said.15
Ellison said the airflow improved a couple of weeks before the explosion. “You could feel it get a little bit better,” he said. “Some days it would be better. Some days it would be just like it was. They had … little signs that point over for a mandoor and things. You didn’t see them moving until about a couple weeks before the explosion, you could see them starting to move. We started getting some decent air. And then it just went right back that way again… The signs didn’t even blow.”16
Bobbie Pauley, who operated a shuttle car for the swing shift on Headgate 22, said the section had ventilation problems from the time they started driving the headgate. “You could never get enough air to the face,” she said. “Management kept trying different things. I assume the ventilation changes had been approved. But you don’t ruffle a lot of feathers when you work for Massey. If we didn’t have enough air, we ran coal.”17
Pauley said Payne told her that Blanchard was in the mine directing ventilation changes from January to March. “But they’re just trying anything, Bobbie,” Pauley said Payne told her. “They don’t know what they’re doing.”18
Federal and state inspection records for the mine support this view. Upper Big Branch was cited every month during 2009 – 64 citations in all (57 from MSHA, seven from the state) – for failure to ventilate the mine according to the approved ventilation plan.19 Ventilation problems were observed throughout the mine by inspectors in 2009 and early 2010 and included such violations as insufficient air reaching the last open break off the left side of the Headgate section20; stoppings with holes in them that caused belt air not to be separated from return air21; airlock doors open on both sides22 and reversed airflow.23
Moreover, UBB was cited for the manner in which ventilation changes were made in an attempt to correct or redirect airflow. Because results for making changes to ventilation cannot be predicted, it is considered a cardinal sin to make ventilation changes with miners underground. Nevertheless, a citation issued by MSHA on September 1, 2009, noted:
“Intentional change in the ventilation system was in the process of being implemented and unnecessary persons were working in the mine. Several required ventilation controls were not yet installed and several ventilation controls were installed but not approved in the ventilation plan 8/6/09. Airflow has reversed in the longwall setup entries and airflow was reversed in neutral aircourses. [Two sections] returned to production on 9/1/09 prior to the completion of the ventilation change…”24
Every underground coal mine in the United States is required by law to have a ventilation system approved by MSHA. The West Virginia Office of Miners’ Health Safety and Training also must approve ventilation plans for state mines. Any modification to the plan must first be approved by MSHA before a change is implemented. Once the plan is approved, it is the operator’s responsibility to comply with the plan.
The ventilation system is designed to push fresh air through the mine, keeping it from being stagnant, preventing the buildup of methane and other toxic gases and removing coal dust. The ventilation system also serves to keep previously mined areas free from any buildup of gases. By law, a mine is required to provide all underground working places with a current of air containing not less than 19.5 percent oxygen, not more than 0.5 percent carbon dioxide and no harmful quantities of other noxious or poisonous gases.25
The ventilation system used at Upper Big Branch is commonly referred to as a push-pull system. In the Upper Big Branch North area of the mine, air is pushed into the mine at the North Portal and pulled through the mine by the Bandytown fan. Once the air has traveled its intended course, it exits the mine through entries at Bandytown and out the return shaft, and at the North Portal and Ellis Portal through designated return entries.
Fresh air and return air are directed through the mine by “ventilation controls” referred to as stoppings, overcasts, regulators, seals and airlock doors. The location, construction and maintenance of these controls are critical to the proper functioning of a ventilation system. Missing controls, poorly constructed controls or controls in need of repair will result in an ineffective or failed system. At Upper Big Branch, physical evidence indicated that ventilation controls were missing at the Ellis Portal construction site. Investigators also found that the airflow traveling to the Bandytown fan from the headgate and tailgate sides of the longwall was restricted because of buildup of water and bad roof.
State, federal and independent investigators were in agreement that Upper Big Branch had an excessive number of airlock doors. Airlock doors are used to prevent air from short-circuiting as people and equipment enter or move into different areas of the mine. Decisions to use doors instead of overcasts may result from the fact that the doors can be installed faster and at less cost to the operator. A problem with using doors is that the air can be short-circuited if the doors are left open, as workers testified was the case on repeated occasions at UBB. Testimony also indicated that the doors were not properly maintained, resulting in leakage in and around them.
Both federal and state regulations require that an operator provide a minimum of 9,000 cubic feet per minute (cfm) of air in the last open crosscut. At least 3,000 cfm must reach every working face. The Upper big Branch ventilation plan called for 15,000 cfm in the last open crosscut. The consistent testimony by a large number of witnesses suggests that this requirement was not being met on the Headgate 22 section. If sufficient air is not provided to a working section, the potential exists for methane buildup and coal float dust accumulations.
The section specific methane dust control plan for the Upper big Branch longwall required a minimum of 40,000 cfm at the intake to the longwall. A minimum of 400 linear feet per minute (lfm) was required at #9 shield, or 50 feet off the headgate. A minimum of 250 lfm was required at #160 shield, or 100 feet off the tailgate. The quantity of air required by regulation and the plan is always the minimum for safe operation. Operators may be required to provide more than the minimum if the situation warrants – and it’s something they should do on their own to assure the safety of workers.
An MSHA test conducted before the UBB disaster used smoke to track the current of air on the longwall face. The results indicated that air was traveling in and out of the shields at various locations on the face.26 This problem usually occurs because there is not enough positive pressure on the gob, and it has the potential for allowing gob air containing methane to get to the face without being detected. While methane monitors are located on the longwall equipment, they do not cover the entire face. Continuous monitoring of air quality and quantity across the longwall face by electronic monitors with the ability to automatically shut down the longwall system would provide a much safer environment for workers.
It should be noted that the fans at the Upper Big Branch had sufficient capacity to adequately ventilate a mine that was as physically large as this one and that had a number of operating sections. The challenge in ventilating such a mine is that the air must be forced and directed through multiple controls to make sure all areas are adequately ventilated.
The push-pull ventilation system at Upper Big Branch also had a design flaw: its fans were configured so that air was directed in a straight line even though miners worked in areas away from the horizontal path. As a result, air had to be diverted from its natural flow pattern into the working sections on the longwall, Headgate 22, Tailgate 22 and the crossover sections. Because these sections were located on different sides of the natural flow pattern, multiple diversionary controls had to be constructed and frequently were in competition with one another.
For example, as a number of witnesses suggested, when the longwall was receiving sufficient air, the Headgate 22 section had very low airflow. The competition for air at Upper Big Branch led to the dangerous practice of ad hoc modifications of the ventilation system by foremen concerned with providing adequate air for their crews on a day-to-day or shift-by-shift basis. These changes might include opening doors or altering regulators, such as stoppings. This practice deviates from the basic safety tenet of maintaining an overall ventilation plan designed by engineers. If the mine’s ventilation plan is not followed by all management personnel, the risk of ignitions from methane can increase substantially.
Methane gas is a natural by-product of decomposing organic matter and is the most hazardous gas found in underground mines.27 The danger of methane, which has contributed to more than 10,000 miner deaths in the United States since 1925, has been known for centuries.28
Since UBB is considered a gassy mine that liberates excessive quantities of methane, attention to ventilation is crucial. Stanley “Goose” Stewart, who operated a continuous miner on the Headgate 22 second shift, told members of the House Committee on Education and Labor at a hearing in May 2010 there were many red flags that had prompted him to tell his wife that UBB was a “ticking time bomb.”29
“Many things were wrong at the mine, such as low air constantly,” Stewart said. “The area of the mine we were working was liberating a lot of methane. Mine management never fully addressed the air problem when it would be shut down by inspectors. They would fix it just good enough to get us to load coal again.”30
Stewart said he was particularly alarmed on July 26, 2009, when his second shift crew was “told by management to make an air change from sweep air to split air in Headgate 21.” He said stoppings were removed while crews were still working. “It scared me,” Stewart said, “and when I got home I wrote it down.”31
In early January 2010 an MSHA inspector noted that Performance Coal’s senior management officials showed a “reckless disregard” for worker safety when they told a foreman to ignore a citation the mine received for faulty ventilation.32
That inspector was Keith Stone from MSHA’s Mount Hope office.33 Stone, who was assigned to Upper Big Branch for the first quarter of 2010, began his quarterly inspection on January 7 on the Headgate 22 section. As he walked down the primary escapeway, Stone noticed that the airflow wasn’t moving in the direction indicated on the map.
Canopies and shields and methane migration
The canopy of a longwall shield is the component that sits on top of the legs of the shield. The canopy is pressurized against the mine roof to support it. It is made of steel and extends over the face conveyor, towards the coal face and behind the legs of the shield on the gob side.
The shields at UBB were 1.75 meters wide and 176 shields extended across the full longwall face. Canopies are tapered in the rear to allow material to slide off of them. Each canopy has four sides, plus the top which is pressurized against the roof, and the bottom, under which miners travel.
This construction allows for openings in the canopy. At UBB, the openings in the canopies were used for a water spray system and space to run a water line to the sprays. In testimony, miners stated that they would store extra bits and sprays at various locations inside the openings.
Since methane is generally found near the roof of a coal mine, it is conceivable that methane could migrate into the canopies of the shields and accumulate to an explosive range. Air used to ventilate the face could travel in a direction that does not sufficiently sweep methane accumulations inside the canopy openings, allowing it to accumulate.
The inside portion of the canopy where methane could accumulate comes within a few feet of the cutting drum of the shearer. If the shearer is cutting rock and producing a large number of sparks, this would provide a heat source for an ignition. Moreover, the methane in these canopies would not flow in the area of the methane monitor. The methane is basically trapped in an area above a monitor and would also not flow close enough to a miner wearing a multi-gas detector.
In April 2011, investigators conducted smoke tests on the shields near the tailgate of the UBB longwall. The tests revealed a “conduit effect” that could allow methane to migrate from the gob area through the canopy void and come in close contact with the cutting drums of the shearer.
“Air flow according to the map, should have been coming inby toward the face,” he said. “Air was going outby.”34 When the air split at the crossover, it went down toward the mouth of the longwall and met with the longwall intake. “That air was supposed to be coming up that way towards 22 section, but it had reversed…”35
Stone informed UBB foreman Terry Moore, who was traveling with him that day, that the primary escapeway air was backwards. As a result, Stone explained, workers who were trained to exit by that route – the shortest route out of the mine – instead would have to exit by the other intake, which was feeding the section. In the case of a fire or other emergency, miners would have to travel a longer distance and go deeper into the mine before they could exit.36
Stone told Moore to immediately withdraw miners from the section. He issued a D2 order, removed the miners from the face and “shut the immediate section down – because their men did not have a safe access to the surface in the event of an emergency.”37
Stone said Moore told him that he knew about the problem with the airflow. “He stated it had existed for at least three weeks when he took the foreman’s job. He informed me that he had mentioned it to the superintendent (Everett Hager),” Stone said. “And he was told not to worry about it.”38,39
Stone also talked to members of the crew “and they had expressed concern over this condition themselves,” he said.40 “They said they had mentioned it a couple weeks prior to some management officials; they was told it was fine, not to worry about it. I asked them … who they questioned. The names they give me was Chris Blanchard, who is president of the company, and Jamie Ferguson, who was the vice president of the company at that time.”
Later that day, after the order was lifted, Stone found air in the belt entry traveling the wrong direction, so he issued another order, this time removing men from the longwall face.41
Keith Stone had been a federal mine inspector for less than a year when he was assigned to UBB. It took an immense amount of courage for the young inspector to shut down production and withdraw miners from sections twice during his first trip into the mine. When Performance Coal President Chris Blanchard learned that the Headgate 22 section was shut down, he called Stone on the mine phone to challenge the inspector’s findings and argued that the situation was unacceptable. Keith Stone didn’t cave. When he found a problem, he took the appropriate action to ensure the safety of workers until the situation was remedied.
The last time Stone went to UBB was to terminate an order for air flow reversal in the tailgate of the longwall issued by Keith Sigmon, a ventilation specialist out of MSHA’s Mount Hope office.42 “The regulator that’s shown on this map at the mouth of the longwall tailgate – was not installed and that was one of the contributing factors to the air reversal. It was not letting air feed the tailgate,” Stone said.43 UBB was down two and a half days while workers knocked a stopping and built a regulator.44
Stone said his greatest concern at UBB was always ventilation. “I don’t know if the first day set the tone for that, you know, issuing the two [orders],” he said. “And then you do it again and…. A couple other inspectors issue it, so it’s just a recurring thing, you know, and it’s hard to stay on top of.”45
Stone was so concerned that he spoke with the ventilation specialists in MSHA’s Mount Hope office. He feared that UBB officials might be engaged in a practice not unheard of in the industry – that of operators manipulating the air during ventilation inspections in order to have plenty of air in the section being inspected at that time. In effect, air is “stolen” from sections that are not being inspected. As the inspection moves to another section, the air is shifted so the air on that section complies with the required ventilation plan.
In response to Stone’s request for help, ventilation supervisor Joe Mackowiak sent ventilation specialists Keith Sigmon, Benny Clark and Clyde Gray to UBB on March 9, 2010. Field office supervisor Tom Moore, and a new MSHA trainee accompanied Stone, Sigmon, Clark and Gray. One ventilation specialist was sent to each section with one person staying outby, Stone said.46
“Joe wanted to make sure that each section, the longwall and both headgate sections had a … ventilation specialist there to make sure they weren’t stealing air, or you know, just make sure they had enough air top right,“ Sigmon said.”47 “Joe wanted one of us at each section, you know, because if they were changing the air, he wanted us there, all three of us, to make sure that if they knew we were coming, they couldn’t do anything.48
Sigmon said UBB submitted requests for ventilation plan changes frequently. “I started in ventilation in December,’” he said. “I would imagine, say, since December 30, probably 20-some revisions went through our ventilation department.” He said he had cited the mine a couple of times for using a ventilation plan that had not been approved.
Before working for MSHA, Sigmon worked for CONSOL Energy, where the mines had resident engineers and survey crews. “And so here, you deal a lot with Massey operated coal mines, especially out of Mount Hope,” he said. “And so it was a culture shock to me that they were not engineered as well.”49
Sigmon said he believed Massey was “well understaffed in all their engineering department. They’ve got a lot of young engineers who seem to be hard workers but just not the knowledge level that they need to be at probably, you know. I always said this mine needs a resident engineer … they need somebody there constantly, but that’s something you don’t see, you know, is resident engineers at any of the mines.”50 Eric Lilly, who invoked his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination and declined to be interviewed, was assigned to UBB as resident engineer in the six months leading up to the explosion.
Richard Kline, the assistant district manager for MSHA’s Mount Hope office, expressed concern about troubling trends he had witnessed with respect to engineering in the industry as a whole. “I don’t think we have the engineers in these mines that we used to have,” he said. “We’re not engineering mines. They’re trying to use duct tape to fix things instead of engineering. They’re not taking the time to look ahead at what they have.”51
Testimony from members of Massey’s Route 3 Engineering work force support Sigmon’s and Kline’s characterization of the perception that inadequate engineering was being done by people who had very little experience. Of those interviewed, Heath Lilly said he had very little involvement with the UBB mine; Raymond Brainard said he traveled underground at UBB only once every couple of years; Matthew Walker had never been underground at UBB. Keith Trent and Daniel Snodgrass both said they had no degrees, only on-the-job training. Trent had been underground one time in the previous eight years and Snodgrass hadn’t been underground in two years.
Mackowiak said he was aware that Keith Stone had cited UBB for the low airflow on Headgate 22 in early March. “I found that shocking the first time it was issued because the mine is basically sitting on top of a bleeder fan, and, therefore, should’ve had plenty of operating volume.”52 Given the location of the mine’s fans, it should have had sufficient air.
The second time it occurred, Mackowiak picked up the telephone and called Bill Ross, a former MSHA ventilation specialist and Mackowiak’s one-time boss, who had taken a position with Massey.
“He’d asked me on several previous occasions that any time there was a problem to give him a call and he would be more than happy to go to that mine and help,” Mackowiak said. “So I called Bill Ross … and I said there is a problem, here’s what it is, low operating air volume on Headgate 22. This is the second time that’s happened and it’s inexcusable.”53
Mackowiak recalled that Ross told him he’d love to go to UBB, but “they won’t let me.” Mackowiak said when he asked Ross who wouldn’t let him, “he stated it was Chris Blanchard.”54 Ross suggested that it might help if Mackowiak emailed Massey Energy’s senior Vice President and Chief Operating Officer, Chris Adkins, asking for Ross’s assistance. Mackowiak said he did so on March 17.55
The following email exchange took place:
Mackowiak to Adkins, March 16, 2010, 1:40 p.m.: “Low air on the headgate section again, despite last week’s shut down. I called Bill Ross and he is on another project right now. I think they could use some help. Good luck.
Ross to Mackowiak, March 16, 2010, 2:32 p.m.: “What’s the verdict?”
Mackowiak to Ross, March 17, 2010, 5:37 a.m.: “I haven’t received a reply yet.”
Ross to Mackowiak, March 17, 2010, 7:30 a.m.: “What did you say to him? I want to help out at the mine if they will listen.”
Mackowiak to Ross, March 17, 2010, 7:44 a.m.: “I emailed him and told him that the headgate was out of air again despite last week’s shutdown. I called u and u were on another project, and they seemed like they needed some help.”56
Mackowiak admits that reaching out to Ross was “out of the ordinary” but his intent was not to interfere with an order issued from an inspector. “My purpose in doing that,” Mackowiak explained, “I wanted to supplement that order and essentially elevate this issue from a mine level to a corporate level to where someone would respond to this appropriately, because the second time I have a low – low operating air volume on a section is inexcusable.”57
In Mackowiak’s view, Massey took a “band-aid approach” to ventilation. “As an inspector would find issues in the mine, and they would issue violations or citations and orders, the company would react to that with generally a plan change, but you would only see a small component of it, whatever was necessary to abate that condition and then move on,“ Mackowiak said. “And that was done a myriad of times.”58
Beginning on December 18, 2009, Massey and MSHA discussed ventilation changes in the Upper Big Branch mine in a series of meetings and written communications. The Governor’s Independent Investigation Panel made repeated and numerous requests of MSHA for records relating to these communications. The GIIP’s interest was in determining the veracity of Massey Energy’s claims that the ventilation problems at UBB were caused by MSHA.59 In public statements, Massey CEO Don Blankenship asserted that MSHA forced UBB to institute ventilation changes with which the company disagreed.60
The GIIP initially requested MSHA’s records related to UBB’s ventilation plan submissions and the agency’s denial letters in mid-July 2010. MSHA provided some records on March 31, 2011. Based on a review of the documents provided by MSHA, the GIIP found no evidence to suggest or support any company officials’ assertions to MSHA’s ventilation plan requirements for UBB would make the mine less safe or put miners’ lives at risk. Nor did GIIP investigators identify any records indicating that UBB management or Massey Energy officials expressed such a concern to MSHA.
Mackowiak pointed out that federal regulations call for operators to develop and follow a ventilation plan “and a plan revision is necessary when it’s – basically can have a material effect on health and safety.” In Mackowiak’s view, any time the company “would reverse an air course, change its direction or change its type from intake to return or return to intake,” the action would have a material effect on health and safety.61
Mackowiak said Massey submitted revisions at such a quick pace that often multiple changes were occurring, with no mechanism to track the changes other than quarterly inspections.62
“I receive more pressure for plan approvals from Massey subsidiaries than the entire rest of the district mines combined, and that’s not just this mine. This mine was fairly bad with regard to that. The other mine that is the worst in the district would be the Justice Mine, which is also a Massey Energy subsidiary,” Mackowiak said, adding that there were “three or four plans” pending for UBB at the time of the explosion.63
MSHA district officials were so frustrated with Massey’s actions with regard to annual ventilation maps that the district actually changed its procedures.
Previously, MSHA allowed operators three submittals before the agency issued a violation. “Well … it took four separate submittals in order to approve that map,” Mackowiak said of Massey’s 2009 submission. “So it took 11 months to get an annual map. So as soon as an annual map was acceptable at this location, one month later they would do their next annual map. To say the least, I was upset.”
According to Mackowiak, because of the ongoing problems with Massey, MSHA changed its policy so that the agency no longer allowed three submittals before issuing a violation. Violations could be issued on the first submittal if “there was a ventilation issue shown on the map that could materially affect health and safety.” That was, according to Mackowiak “exclusively due to the poor submittals from Upper Big Branch Mine.”64
1 Personal communication with Bobbie Pauley, April 30, 2010
2 Michael Ellison testimony, p. 59
3 Dennis Simms testimony, p. 52
4 Morris Hulgan testimony, p. 18
5 Joshua Massey testimony, p. 17
6 Brian Collins testimony, p. 52
7 Larry Richmond testimony, p. 32
8 Gina Jones testimony, p. 11
9 Gina Jones testimony, p. 12
10 Personal communication with Gina Jones
11 Gina Jones testimony, p. 14
12 Michael Ellison testimony, p. 77
13 Michael Ellison testimony, p. 18
14 Michael Ellison testimony, p. 21
15 Michael Ellison testimony, p. 27
16 Michael Ellison testimony, p. 33
17 Personal communication with Bobbie Pauley, April 30, 2010
18 Bobbie Pauley testimony, p 87
19 Federal MSHA standards: 75.320 (air quality detectors and measurement devices), 75.323 (actions for excessive methane), 75.325 (air quantity), 75.333 (ventilation controls), 75.337 (construction and repair of seals) State of West Virginia standards: 22A-2-2 (Plan of ventilation) and 22A-2-4 (Ventilation of mines in general).
20 Citation No. 8072754, July 8, 2009
21 Citation No. 6612472 , July 15, 2009
22 Citation No. 8080099, October 28, 2009
23 Citation No. 8100144, December 30, 2009
24 Citation No. 6612936 , September 1, 2009
25 West Virginia Underground Mining Laws, Rules and Regulations22A-2-4 (a) MSHA 30 CFR 75.321
26 Keith Sigmon testimony, p. 18; Clyde Gray testimony, p. 12
27 Dictionary of Mining, Mineral, and Related Terms. Washington DC: US Department of Interior, Bureau of Mines, 1968
28 Historical Summary of Mine Disasters in the United States, Volume I, Coal Mines (1810-1958), Washington DC: US Bureau of Mines, 1960 and Volume II Coal Mines (1959-1998) Beckley WV: Mine Safety and Health Administration, 2000.
29 Stanley Stewart before the U.S. House Committee on Education and Labor, May 24, 2010
30 Stanley Stewart before the U.S. House Committee on Education and Labor, May 24, 2010
31 Stanley Stewart before the U.S. House Committee on Education and Labor, May 24, 2010
32 The Washington Post, Steven Mufson, April 23, 2010; MSHA Citation No. 8087709, January 6, 2010
33 Jerome Keith Stone testimony, p. 12
34 Jerome Keith Stone testimony, p. 22
35 Jerome Keith Stone testimony, p. 23
36 Jerome Keith Stone testimony, p. 24
37 Jerome Keith Stone testimony, p. 25
38 Jerome Keith Stone testimony, p. 26
39 This is also noted on the citation, Citation No. 8087709, dated 1/7/2010. The citation says, “Terry Moore, mine foreman, state he was aware of this condition and that it has existed for approximately three weeks.”
40 Jerome Keith Stone testimony, p. 26
41 Jerome Keith Stone testimony, p. 32
42 Jerome Keith Stone testimony p. 50
43 Jerome Keith Stone testimony, p. 51
44 Jerome Keith Stone testimony, p. 52
45 Jerome Keith Stone testimony, p. 56
46 Jerome Keith Stone testimony, p. 55
47 Keith Sigmon testimony, p. 12
48 Keith Sigmon testimony, p. 56
49 Keith Sigmon testimony, p. 82
50 Keith Sigmon testimony, p. 54
51 Richard Kline testimony, p. 14
52 Joseph Mackowiak testimony, May 18, 2010, p. 25
53 Joseph Mackowiak testimony, May 18, 2010, p. 26
54 Joseph Mackowiak testimony, May 18, 2010, p. 26
55 Joseph Mackowiak testimony, May 18, 2010, p. 26
56 Email exchange provided by MSHA
57 Joseph Mackowiak testimony, May 18, 2010, p. 27
58 Joseph Mackowiak testimony, May 18, 2010, p.13
59 MSHA provided in March 2011 some of the documents we requested. We learned from career agency staff that our request reached a standstill in the Office of the Assistant Secretary or further up the Department of Labor’s chain of command. We confirmed with the US Department of Justice that they were not the cause of the delay.
60 e.g., Don Blankenship testimony before the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies, May 20, 2010; Don Blankenship letter to Governors of IL, KY, VA, WV, June 7, 2010
61 Joseph Mackowiak testimony, May 18, 2010, p. 14
62 Joseph Mackowiak testimony, May 18, 2010, p. 14
63 Joseph Mackowiak testimony May 18, 2010, p. 32
64 Joseph Mackowiak testimony, May 18, 2010, p. 17