The footprint of a disaster
Every mine explosion leaves behind a footprint that offers clues to investigators as to where the blast originated and how the force traveled from the ignition point. Conflicting theories have been put forth as to whether the April 5, 2010, explosion at the Upper Big Branch mine was triggered by methane or natural gas; whether it was solely the result of an immense methane inundation; or whether coal dust aided in propagating the blast.
Massey Energy’s assertion is that the explosion was caused by a massive and unforeseen inundation of methane or natural gas from a crack in the mine floor. In a report to President Obama released on April 27, 2010, MSHA officials offered the opinion that the UBB explosion was caused by “the combustion of accumulations of methane, combined with combustible coal dust mixed with air.”
Although both theories were put forth before investigators had been allowed to enter the mine, MSHA looked to the past to find answers. “Historically,” the April 27 report stated, “blasts of this magnitude have involved propagation from coal dust. When methane and coal dust levels are controlled, explosions from these sources can be prevented.”1
The footprint left behind in the Upper Big Branch mine supports MSHA’s theory. It tells the story of an explosion that started with the ignition of a small amount of methane gas and then was fueled by coal dust that had been allowed to build up for miles through the mine.
When a mine explodes suddenly and with great force, as happened at Upper Big Branch, methane is immediately suspected as a primary source. Odorless, colorless and highly combustible, methane is the most common hazardous gas found in underground coal mines. Created naturally by the decomposition of organic materials – the same process that creates coal – methane is lighter than air and tends to rise to the roofs of mines. It can migrate into voids in the earth created when coal seams are removed.
Because methane is universally recognized as highly explosive, mine operators are required to keep levels under one percent of the mine’s atmospheric content. Concentrations between 5 percent and 15 percent pose the greatest threat of explosions, with the most explosive mixture at 9.5 percent.
Methane explosions occur when a buildup of methane gas comes into contact with an ignition source, such as a flame or spark. Because sparking is common in the mining process, history is replete with methane explosions.
Small methane ignitions do not have to turn into major explosions if mine operators adhere to basic safety measures, such as maintaining adequate ventilation systems, removing explosive coal dust from mining operations, spreading required amounts of rock dust and ensuring that water sprays on mining equipment are kept in good repair and function properly. Because these basic safety systems failed at UBB, a minor flareup of methane led to the nation’s worst coal mining disaster in 40 years.
The footprint of an explosion caused by natural gas is not dramatically different from that of one caused by methane. Methane and natural gas have similar, but not identical, chemical composition, and both occur naturally in underground mines. Methane is the primary gas in natural gas, making up approximately 90 percent of its content. Because natural gas also contains other hydrocarbons, such as hydrogen, ethane, propane and butane, the explosive range for natural gas is slightly lower than that of methane.
The composition of the gas has an effect on flame heat and speed, and it has an effect on the amount of coking that can be produced in an explosion. However, because natural gas is primarily methane, the difference between methane explosions and natural gas explosions can be measured only in slight degrees and is not significant.
Forensic soot and dust sampling
After a coal mine explosion, an effort is undertaken to determine its cause and what factors, such as coal dust or methane, contributed to the explosion. Over the past 100 years of mining in the US and throughout the world, techniques have been developed for collecting and analyzing forensic evidence. The dust or soot left behind after an explosion is key physical evidence used by investigators to determine the cause of the blast.1,2
Typically, three types of dust or soot samples are collected: channel, band and spot.3 Channel samples are taken from the area of the mine near to where the ignition may have occurred. Each channel sample is analyzed and the percentage moisture, volatile matter, fixed carbon and ash are determined. The “volatile ratio” is calculated using the volatile matter and fixed carbon.
Band samples, collected from the mine floor, ribs and roof at 100 foot intervals, are taken throughout the explosion zone and in locations far beyond it. Each sample is evaluated and provides two pieces of data: the degree of coking and the percent incombustible content. Coking is determined using the “alcohol coke test,” which identifies trace, small, large or extra-large quantities of coke in each sample. The alcohol coke test was used by the US Bureau of Mines (BOM) dating back to 1940. The technique has been improved over the years, and it is considered the best available method to determine the presence of coke.
The percentage of incombustible content of the dust samples also provides key forensic evidence. When coal dust and rock dust are mixed, the post-explosion incombustible content is higher in the post-explosion mixture than the pre-explosion mixture. The volatile content of the mine dust decreases because of the post explosion flame, leaving ash with higher incombustible content.
Lastly, spot samples are taken after an explosion, generally in places were an ignition may have occurred. In cases where there is trace or no coke accumulations, spot samples can help distinguish areas where no flame occurred. The alcohol coke test is used to identify the extent that a sample was exposed to flame.
Evidence from experimental coal dust explosions indicates that coke is not formed where the mine dust contains more than 50% incombustible content.4 When coke is found in samples collected after an explosion, it tells us that the application of rock dust was inadequate and failed to meet mandatory standards for incombustible content. In a 1922 US BOM bulletin, mining engineers noted that coal dust is coked by a slow-moving flame.5 In areas where the flame velocity is high, little or no coke is produced.6 That evidence is consistent with the forensic evidence collected at UBB, where the explosive heat passed so quickly that no coking occurred.
At UBB, 1,803 samples were collected by teams of at least 30 individuals working over a period of three to four weeks. The samples were analyzed at MSHA’s analytical laboratory at Mount Hope, WV and at an independent commercial laboratory in Illinois. A large number of samples showed high flame and coke. There was simply not enough rock dust applied at UBB. [See Soot and Coking map]
1 U.S. Department of Labor, Mine Safety and Health Administration, Dust Sampling and Laboratory Testing Procedures after Underground Coal Mine Explosions, 1996.
2 Massey Energy issued a press statement on September 17, 2010 asserting that thesampling and analytical methods used to evaluate post-disaster soot and dust are “faulty” and “unproven.” The company cites litigation between MSHA and Jim Walter Resources, Inc., (JWR)related to citations issued following the September 2001 disaster in Brookwood, AL that killed 13 miners. The circumstances leading to the JWR and UBB disasters were significantly different, as were the post-disaster mine conditions. For example, in order to extinguish and control volatile mine fires in JWR #5, 30 million gallons of water were injected into the mine workings. As a result, dust and soot were moved about in the mine, and later moved again (or removed altogether) over a month-long period when the water was drained. In addition, the coal in UBB and JWR #5 had substantially different friability levels, which relates to the ease at which the coal crumbles. As measured by the Hardgrove Grindaility Index (HGI) the coal at JWR #5 had an HGI of greater than 90 (highly friable), while UBB’s HGI ranged from 55 to 62. Moreover, following the JWR disaster, 88 tons of rock dust was applied inside the mine post-disaster and prior to the forensic sampling. At UBB, no additional rock dust was applied before the forensic samples were collected.
3 U .S. Department of Labor, Mine Safety and Health Administration, Dust Sampling and Laboratory Testing Procedures after Underground Coal Mine Explosions, 1996.
5 Bureau of Mines Bulletin 167, Rice, G.S., Jones,L.M., Egy W.L., Greenwald, H.P., Coal-Dust Explosion Tests in the Experimental Mine, 1913-1918, Inclusive, 1922.
6 U.S. Department of Labor, Mine Safety and Health Administration, Dust Sampling and Laboratory Testing Procedures after Underground Coal Mine Explosions, 1996
One of the reasons investigators suspected that the April 5 explosion involved methane is that the Upper Big Branch mine had a history of methane inundations and outbursts reaching back to 1997. The Eagle 3 Seam has a history of liberating methane and experiencing gas inundations.
Miner Stanley Stewart, who was on his way underground when UBB blew up, also was present for the first such incident on January 4, 1997, which involved a series of explosions on the tailgate side of the No. 2 West longwall panel in the gob area behind the shields.2
In his detailed report released on July 14, 1997, MSHA inspector Ernie Ross, Jr., concluded that the explosions occurred when a flammable methane/air mixture was ignited by heat and/or sparks generated by a fall of the sandstone/shale behind the longwall shields.3
“I thought I was a dead man that day,” said Stewart, a utility man who was positioned at No. 174 shield when the shearer cut out at the tailgate entry.4 After hearing what he believed to be a roof fall behind the shields, Stewart looked toward the tailgate entry and observed a bright red glow. He pointed in the direction of the glow, alerting tail end shearer operator Ricky Ferrell. Ferrell reported seeing an orange glow where Stewart was pointing.
As Stewart began to run away from the glow and toward the headgate, he felt heat around his legs and saw smoke coming from behind the shields. Ferrell deenergized the shearer and observed a flash from behind the shields. The hair on the back of Ferrell’s neck and hands was singed from the heat.5 As Ferrell proceeded toward the headgate, he encountered light smoke and called for the power to be de-energized on the face.
Head shearer operator Richard Hutchens was at the No. 170 shield facing Ferrell when he saw a bright flare-up past the end of the shields in the tailgate return entry and felt the heat on the back of his neck. “It was just a big ball of fire,” Hutchens said.
Foreman Jack Roles (UBB’s longwall coordinator and supervisor on April 5, 2010) was at the No. 160 shield when he heard a roof fall and saw a flash at the tailgate. Roles telephoned the surface and informed longwall coordinator John Hubbard that a possible ignition had occurred at the tailgate. Hubbard directed Roles to remove the men from the longwall, de-energize the power and increase the ventilation.
Roles made sure workers were leaving the area where the ignition had occurred. He instructed the men to go to the headgate and increase the ventilation along the face line.
Chief electrician Elmer Blair had been working at No. 150 shield when he heard the roof fall and noted an odd odor, which he described as similar to the smell of old works. Blair then felt an increase in air temperature.6
The miners traveling from the tailgate arrived at Blair’s location and told him something “blew up.” Blair instructed David Flowers, an electrician stationed at the headgate, to de-energize the power to the longwall.7 The crew installed additional ventilation controls and traveled to the surface approximately ten minutes later. Roles and Blair remained underground to check the tailgate for methane and a possible damaged power cord. After making the methane checks, Blair observed a flash – the second such incident – near the bottom backside of the No. 174 shield. As Roles and Blair proceeded toward the headgate, a third incident occurred, which both men felt “bucked the air” as they passed the No. 36 shield.8
Methane inundations occurred again in 2003 and 2004 at Upper Big Branch. A July 3, 2003, episode was blamed on a “mountain bump” near the #16 longwall working section.9 “Mountain bump” is a term associated with seismic jolts most common in the deepest mines where pillars hold the most weight.10 As the bump occurred, the mine floor began to hoove, causing fractures in the floor along the longwall face. High concentrations of methane were released into the atmosphere.
MSHA’s report on the 2003 inundation determined that the bleeder system was inadequate.11 When working properly, the bleeder system dilutes methaneair mixtures and other gases and moves it away from active areas. MSHA issued a citation because fan charts showed disturbances for six weeks prior to the inundation, noting that the disturbances were indicative of problems with the gob. In an eerie foreshadowing of April 5, 2010, MSHA investigators found that the problems were most likely due to the amount of water that had been allowed to build up in the gob area. Another citation was issued because the airflow was traveling in the wrong direction to the longwall.12
On February 18, 2004, a floor methane outburst occurred along the 17 longwall panel. When he arrived at the area, former UBB Superintendent Wendell Wills described the sound as “like a train in a tunnel.”
“It was so loud coming out of the bottom,” Wills said. “The bottom had busted, and … you could look down the pan line of the longwall and you could see – it looked like road heat coming off the road, coming out from the jacks.”
Wills said the mine was evacuated and he “stayed there monitoring to see if it was going to quit or what was going to happen and make sure we had good ventilation. They called me outside, and we proceeded then to re-ventilate.”
State Inspector Gerald W. Pauley issued a control order at 1:00 p.m. on February 18, 2004, citing “an inundation of methane” on the longwall section. The control order was modified several times before being lifted on February 20 at 3:30 p.m. “due to good air flow” and methane readings that were consistently below one percent.13 While the section was closed down, stoppings were built and air was directed across the longwall to a fan behind the North Mains, Wills said.14
In the aftermath of this inundation, MSHA asked three mining engineers and a geologist to address the situation. The officials subsequently issued two memoranda, one on March 4, 2004, and the other on July 15, 2004. The March 4 memo concluded that several factors may have contributed to the fracture formation from which methane was released in both 2003 and 2004, including overburden and interburden size, location of a barrier pillar and a zone of geologic weakness.15
The memo stated, “Although these factors may have influenced the formation of the floor fracture, the source of gas is more likely to be a pressurized geological reservoir, rather than bleed-off from a coal seam. Thus, the Lower Eagle seam may have trapped gas beneath structurally high areas, but it is less likely that the Lower Eagle seam is the actual source of the gas.”15
The July 2004 memo stated that there were numerous gas wells on the property below the Eagle seam and “consequently methane trapped in zones below the Eagle seam could be released into the mine through fractures opened by longwall extraction.”17 The first memo noted that the company had proposed degasification wells for the next longwall panel; the second memo explained that because “locating and degassing the floor methane zones is highly problematic; the historic means for handling the situation relies on contingency plans to mitigate” a methane inundation.18
The second memo was addressed to MSHA’s acting District 4 manager. It offered specific recommendations for addressing the situation that were shared with Performance Coal management in a meeting held on May 26, 2004. These recommendations included increasing airflow on the longwall face; ensuring adequate ventilation in the longwall bleeder system; making sure work crews were aware of conditions associated with the occurrence of an outburst; using precursors to indicate that a floor outburst may be about to occur; restricting welding and cutting activities in areas that have a high probability of floor gas outbursts; developing a plan for sealing fractures after outbursts occur; and, in the event of an outburst, sample the gas and analyze it for hydrocarbons.19 The Governor’s Independent Investigation Panel did not identify any evidence to suggest that Performance Coal managers implemented the recommendations20 or that MSHA officials neither urged nor required them to do so.
On April 26, 2010, Massey Energy board member Stan Suboleski, who is a mining engineer, said that “methane was not detected at the working face of the longwall” shortly before the April 5 explosion.21 In July, the company advanced the theory that high levels of methane or natural gas poured into the mine through a massive crack in the floor, overwhelming the mine’s ventilation system and triggering the blast. Company officials pointed to the earlier inundations to support their theory of a sudden outburst of methane.22
Massey CEO Don Blankenship entered the debate when he spoke at the National Press Club on July 22, 2010. “I’m a realist,” Blankenship told the audience. “The politicians will tell you we’re going to do something so this never happens again. You won’t hear me say that. Because I believe that the physics of natural law and God trump whatever man tries to do. Whether you get earthquakes underground, whether you get broken floors, whether you get gas inundations, whether you get roof falls, oftentimes they are unavoidable, just as other accidents are in society.”23
The issue of a massive, unforeseen inundation is significant from a legal standpoint because mitigating factors can excuse or decrease the liability of a mine or business owner following a disaster such as occurred at Upper Big Branch. If, for example, it were determined that the explosion and deaths were the result of an “act of God” – something over which the owner had no control and could not have predicted, the company could argue that it would have no legal liability.
In this case, however, even if the cause of the explosion had been found to be an infusion of natural gas or methane into the UBB mine atmosphere, such an event was entirely foreseeable. The previous incidents in 1997, 2003 and 2004 were well documented and should have served as ample warning for the company and provided an incentive to develop and follow a plan to deal with future outbursts.
On August 11, 2010, Massey released to the news media photos of the crack that company officials said was the source of the alleged inundation. In a meeting with family members the week before, they described it as some 100 to 150 feet long and contended that it offered evidence that the disaster could not have been prevented.24
MSHA, the WVMHST and the Governor’s Independent Investigation Panel responded to Massey’s assertion by conducting a detailed investigation of the crack. MSHA geologist Sandin Phillipson measured and checked the crack to determine if it could be the source of an inundation so great as to cause one gigantic methane or natural gas explosion. The joint investigation team found the crack, located directly in front of the tail drum of the shearer, to be 36 feet long, 4 to 5 inches deep and the result of geologic stresses caused by longwall mining.
Cracks in mine floors occur because of bottom hooving resulting from geologic stresses or pressures on the coal pillar, which in turn cause the floor to push upwards. Several factors can influence bottom hooving, including over and/or under mining, coal block design and second mining. Examinations conducted in various parts of the mine during the investigation suggest that bottom hooving was a common occurrence at the Upper Big Branch mine.
Phillipson found that the crack identified by the company did not go into a void but stopped at the sandstone formation two or three layers down. He said that the strata directly below the crack had not been disturbed and did not show any signs of cracking or fracturing.25
During their lengthy underground investigation, investigators never detected methane from the crack identified by the company. MSHA coal administrator Kevin Stricklin said, “It wasn’t a massive crack. It was what you would typically see in a longwall mine.”26
Members of the Governor’s Independent Investigation Panel who participated in the underground investigation likewise found no evidence that the aforementioned crack was different from any number of cracks in the mine floor. “There were,” one said, “cracks all over that floor.”27
During the course of the investigation, however, investigators did detect methane on a regular basis in cracks directly behind the shields in the area of Shields #160 to 162. This finding supports the theory that the explosion started, not with an inundation from the crack in the floor identified by Massey, but at the tail of the longwall where these shields were located.
Another item of evidence that contradicts the “big crack” theory is that dust sampling conducted by MSHA during the investigation indicated that a flame did not travel across the longwall face. If, as Massey officials maintained, one million cubic feet of methane had been suddenly released at the tailgate of the longwall, the result would have been a five million cubic foot flame going across the face and throughout the tailgate entries in both directions. Evidence found during the investigation does not suggest a force of this magnitude. While a very violent and strong force occurred in the tailgate area, causing metal covers from the tail drive to be blown a great distance down the face, supplemental supports and portions of stoppings were still in place. This infrastructure would have been demolished in a methane blast of the magnitude described by Massey officials.
On the contrary, the distance the force traveled in Upper Big Branch and the damage created in different areas of the mine offer persuasive evidence of the role of coal dust in spreading the explosion.
Analysis of extensive dust sampling indicates the presence of flame in the 8 North and 9 North areas and also on the Headgate 22 continuous miner section. The deepest point of penetration on 9 North was almost a mile from the longwall. The flame did not propagate, or spread, in the 6 North and 7 North areas of the mine, suggesting that the flame speed was slower in these areas.28
Evidence and examination of the Headgate 22 section indicates a very powerful force that traveled on to the section and back out. The faces, the deepest points of penetration on Headgate 22, are almost 6,000 feet away from the longwall tailgate.
Even at this distance from the point of ignition, the force was great enough to blow two metal canopies off of the section mantrip and hurl them for hundreds of feet in opposite directions. The power of this force suggests an explosion that gained strength and size as it traveled from the longwall tailgate, fueled by coal dust along the way. Analysis of the dust samples taken from Headgate 22 after the explosion also offers evidence that the company was not in compliance with the required rock dusting standards on this section. This inadequate rock dusting allowed coal dust to provide fuel for the explosion to continue to gain force as it traveled in and out of this section of the mine. (see Soot and Coking Map)
Descriptions of the explosion by surviving miners also support the theory that both methane and coal dust were involved.
One of them was Stanley Stewart, who had been heading underground at the time of the explosion. Stewart said as he emerged from the mine, he could see air “still whooshing out…. It was still strong.” He estimated that the wind blew for at least two minutes.29
Ultimately, the footprint left behind in the Upper Big Branch mine and the testimony of survivors supports the initial theory that the explosion started with methane and fed on coal dust as it tore through the mine. The footprint, supported by witness testimony, also offered concrete evidence that Massey Energy failed in its responsibility to provide a safe workplace for its workers.
Mining is an industry, which, by its very nature, must address adverse geological and physical conditions. Meeting those challenges requires extensive advanced engineering. Both evidence in the mine and testimonial evidence suggests that Massey Energy’s management failed to properly ventilate UBB because they did not have adequate resources, knowledge and/or capability to develop a sound, workable ventilation plan to address the particular circumstances of UBB.
The ventilation system for a mine with a history of methane infusions such as those experienced at Upper Big Branch must be capable of removing even a large gas inundation. The troubled ventilation system at UBB was incapable of providing sufficient air to sections and to the longwall. It certainly was not robust enough to handle a massive influx of natural gas or methane.
Likewise, the company did not place enough emphasis on rock dusting and maintenance of equipment. Even full compliance with federal and state rock dusting standards may not have prevented the initial ignition on the tail of the longwall. However, a well dusted mine would have put the brakes on a propagating explosion and the death toll would have been significantly less.
Furthermore, investigators examining the shearer on the head and tail drums of the UBB longwall found numerous missing, plugged and poorly maintained water sprays. These sprays, when working properly, are vital to safe longwall operation. Effective water sprays create a mist that can extinguish sparks generated when the cutting bits on the shearer strike rock adjacent to the coal seam; dilute or douse methane ignitions created when sparks come in contact with explosive methane gas; knock down coal dust generated by the shearer’s cutting action; and keep parts of the longwall machinery cool as it cuts through the coal and rock.
When sprays become clogged, a short-term solution is to remove the nozzle entirely. While this takes away the misting spray, it allows water to come out onto the shearer drums, cooling the shearer motor so that it doesn’t overheat and ultimately burn up.
At UBB, of the 23 sprays on the head drum visible to investigators, nine were plugged; of the 30 sprays on the tail drum visible to investigators, seven were totally missing. Some other sprays were found to have been rendered ineffective because, in an effort to unclog them, the nozzle openings had been widened. When spray nozzles are removed or the openings widened, they no longer provide a fine spray. Instead the water gushes out like a water hose. Not only is the effective mist of water lost, the water pressure to the other sprays is altered, making them less effective.30 When investigators tested the water sprays on the UBB longwall, there was not enough water pressure on the tail drum to even produce a reading.
Coal mining operations, especially those with longwall mining equipment, require a large quantity of water, and in many locations it is common for mine operators to draw water from nearby streams and rivers, and private wells. UBB pumped water into the mine from the nearby Coal River and from underground wells nearby. River water, while close at hand and inexpensive, contains sediment, which has a tendency to clog water sprays if not filtered properly. Modest efforts were made at UBB to design and use filters to screen out sediment, but, like other maintenance tasks, the filters were neglected. Investigators heard testimony and examined physical evidence indicating that the screen and sock filters were frequently plugged so much so that the water flow to the machinery was reduced.31 On the UBB longwall in particular, the river water was not filtered adequately, sediment reached the sprays, lodged directly in spray points and clogged them.32
If all the water sprays had been properly maintained and had been functioning as intended – creating a fine mist of water at the shearer nozzle point – and if rock dust had been properly applied, any ignition of methane that occurred likely would have been extinguished at its source.
Ultimately, 29 miners lost their lives in the Upper Big Branch mine because these safety systems failed in a major way. Massey Energy failed to maintain an adequate ventilation system at Upper Big Branch. The company failed to maintain its equipment. It failed to properly rock dust the mine. If those basic matters of safety are effectively practiced, there is no reason for miners to die as a result of explosions in 21st Century America.
1 Briefing by Department of Labor, Mine Safety and Health Administration on Disaster at Massey Energy’s Upper Big Branch Mine-South, at the request of President Barack Obama, April 18, 2010.
2 United States Department of Labor. Mine Safety and Health Administration. Nonfatal Methane/Air Explosion (Upper Big Branch Mine-South). Prepared by Ernie Ross, Jr., Mount Hope, WV, 1997.
3 Ibid at 13.
4 Stanley Stewart testimony, June 5, 2010, p. 80
5 United States Department of Labor. Mine Safety and Health Administration. Nonfatal Methane/Air Explosion (Upper Big Branch Mine-South). Prepared by Ernie Ross, Jr., Mount Hope, WV, 1997.
6 United States Department of Labor. Mine Safety and Health Administration. Nonfatal Methane/Air Explosion (Upper Big Branch Mine-South). Prepared by Ernie Ross, Jr., Mount Hope, WV, 1997.
9 U. S. Department of Labor. Mine Safety and Health Administration. Report of Investigation (Underground Coal Mine): Methane Inundation, by James R. Humphrey and Fred Wills, Mount Hope, WV: 2003.
10 United States Mine Rescue Association website, Mine Accidents and Disasters, http://www.usmra.com/saxsewell/crandallcanyon.htm. (last visited October 5, 2010).
11 U.S. Department of Labor. Mine Safety and Health Administration. Report of Investigation (Underground Coal Mine): Methane Inundation, by James R. Humphrey and Fred Wills, Mount Hope, WV: 2003.
13 Control order, written by Gerald Pauley, West Virginia Office of Miners’ Health Safety and Training, February 18, 2004, Case No. 134-0409-2004
14 Wendell Wills testimony, p. 17
15 Memorandum for John M. Pyles, “Evaluations of Controls on Floor Bursts at Performance Coal Company Upper Big Branch Mine South, prepared by John R. Cook and Sandin E. Phillipson, March 4, 2004
17 Memorandum for Stephen J. Gigliotti, regarding the methane floor outbursts at Performance Coal Company’s Upper Big Branch mine, prepared by George Aul and Michael Gauna, July 15, 2004
18 Ibid at p. 3; March 4, 2004, memorandum at p. 6
19 Ibid at p. 3
20 Personal communication with Shane Harvey and Robert Luskin, September 22, 2010
21 Massey Energy Press statement, April 26, 2010
22 Associated Press, July 22, 2010
23 Ward, K., Jr., Coal Tattoo, July 22, 2010
24 The Charleston Gazette, August 11, 2010
25 MSHA presentation to families, August 2010
26 The Charleston Gazette, August 11, 2010
27 James Beck, February 2011
28 Soot and Coking map
29 Stanley Stewart testimony, June 5, 2010, p. 201
30 E.g., Kenny Woodrum testimony, May 19, 2010, pp. 88, 96, February 10, 2011, p. 24; Travis Nelson testimony, February 10, 2011, p. 56; Tommy Estep testimony, March 1, 2011, e.g., pp. 16, 50, 59.
31 Examinations and testing of the water sprays and filters were conducted at MSHA’s Approval and Certification Center, Triadelphia, WV, March-April, 2011. See also; e.g., Kenny Woodrum testimony, February 10, 2011, p. 25, 46; Tommy Estep testimony, March 1, 2011, p. 40, 44
32 UBB management understood how the river water sediment wreaked havoc on the machinery. For a while, they used river water in the hydraulic hoses attached to the longwall shields. The hoses got clogged with sediment and slowed the hydraulic motion on the shields making it harder for them to move up and forward. UBB management switched to a different water source so the longwall shields would work properly.