BEAVER, W.Va. — U.S. Mine Safety and Health Administration officials have finished their presentation at today’s briefing on the Upper Big Branch Mine Disaster, and they’re starting a question-and-answer session for the public gathered at an auditorium here at the mine academy outside Beckley.
The major new point from the briefing has already been covered by this post last night, about the finding that MSHA investigators discovered two different sets of books, an indication that Massey knew about some safety problems at the mine, but did not report them as required in fireboss books.
The bottom line from the meeting so far is that MSHA investigators found these safety failures by the mine operator that contributed to the disaster: Failure to properly rockdust the mine, failure to control float coal dust, failure to maintain water sprays on the longwall shearer, and an emphasis on coal production over safety precautions.
According to MSHA:
“This explosion could and should have been prevented by the mine operator.”