Massey Facing Big Fine for Aracoma Fire

By: Associated Press
By: Associated Press

LOGAN, W.Va. (AP) - The federal Mine Safety and Health Administration has fined Massey Energy 1.5 million dollars for violations related to the deadly Aracoma Alma Number One mine fire.

MSHA Director Richard Stickler says this is the largest fine in the federal agency's history.

Stickler says the number and severity of the safety violations demonstrated a reckless disregard for safety.

MSHA released its report this morning into its investigation into the fire that killed miners Ellery Elvis Hatfield and Don Bragg.

The report largely mirrors one issued by state investigators last November. That report pinpointed a conveyor belt as the source of the fire and blamed missing walls that control air flow and faulty firefighting equipment as key factors in the deaths.

About 20 family members of the victims attended today's briefing in Logan.

The January 19th, 2006, fire occurred as the state and industry were still reeling from the Sago Mine explosion that killed 12 men less than three weeks earlier. The back-to-back accidents led to sweeping changes in state and federal mine safety laws.

The Aracoma disaster remains the subject of a separate criminal probe by the U-S Attorney's Office in Charleston.

Massey, two subsidiaries and Chief Executive Don Blankenship are facing a civil lawsuit filed by Bragg's and Hatfield's widows.

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