Ex-Coal Mine CEO Don Blankenship Indicted Over Explosion That Killed 29

FILE - In this May 20, 2010 photo, Massey Energy Company Chief Executive Officer Don Blankenship pauses as he testifies on Capitol Hill in Washington before the Senate Health and Human Services subcommittee hearing o... FILE - In this May 20, 2010 photo, Massey Energy Company Chief Executive Officer Don Blankenship pauses as he testifies on Capitol Hill in Washington before the Senate Health and Human Services subcommittee hearing on mine safety. Blankenship announced Friday, Dec. 3, 2010 that he will retire at the end of the month, finishing a nearly 30-year career that included big profits for the company but also fights with labor and federal regulators and a recent mine explosion that killed 29 people. The company's board of directors named current president Baxter F. Phillips Jr. as Blakenship's successor, effective Friday. Blankenship's retirement date is Dec. 31. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster) MORE LESS
Start your day with TPM.
Sign up for the Morning Memo newsletter

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) — The former CEO who oversaw the West Virginia mine that exploded in 2010, killing 29 people, was indicted Thursday on federal charges related to a mine safety investigation that followed the blast.

U.S. Attorney Booth Goodwin said a federal grand jury indicted former Massey Energy CEO Don Blankenship on charges that include conspiracy to violate mandatory federal mine safety and health standards, conspiracy to impede federal mine safety officials, making false statements to the Securities and Exchange Commission and securities fraud.

Blankenship could face up to 31 years in prison if convicted.

The indictment alleges Blankenship conspired to violate mine safety and health standards at the Upper Big Branch Mine from January 2008 until April 2010, when an explosion at the mine killed 29 coal miners.

Specifically, the indictment said Blankenship was part of a conspiracy to provide advance warning of federal mine safety inspections, allowing mine bosses to conceal and cover up safety violations.

After the explosion, Blankenship made false statements and representations to the SEC concerning Massey Energy’s safety practices prior to the explosion. He made similar statements in connection with the purchase and sale of Massey Energy stock, the indictment said.

Alpha Natural Resources bought Massey for $7.1 billion in June 2012. Blankenship, who retired ahead of the merger, has denied any wrongdoing

Four investigations into the Upper Big Branch explosion found that worn and broken cutting equipment created a spark that ignited accumulations of coal dust and methane gas. Broken and clogged water sprayers allowed what should have been a minor flare-up to become an inferno.

The federal Mine Safety and Health Administration said the root cause was Massey’s “systematic, intentional and aggressive efforts” to conceal life-threatening problems. MSHA said managers even maintained two sets of pre-shift inspection books — an accurate one for themselves, and a sanitized one for regulators.

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Latest News

Notable Replies

  1. The wheels of justice sometimes turn slowly, but they do turn. Except of course if you are a Wall St. banker, in which case please help yourself to whatever you’d like, the “Justice Department” will be happy to work something out with you whenever it’s convenient.

  2. Couldn’t happen to a sleazier humanoid. I believe he lied from day one of that tragedy, and he has never stopped lying. 30 years is wayyyy too low. 20 years per fatality with no parole. Yup, 500 years or so suits me just fine.

  3. I hope he’s convicted and sent to prison for a long time.

    He’s a repulsive, hateful, greedy person, and deserves to get his comeuppance.

  4. The GOP just announced they are sponsoring a bill to hold him harmless for this totally unforseeable tragedy, since holding him accountable would just hurt business and make corporate assholes sad.

    Also, they added a rider to gut the ACA (of course).

  5. He couldn’t be guilty of such a massive evil crime against American workers, could he? I mean I sure in his own little bailiwick back there in the fine upstandin crisitianist state of West Virginia, he’s respected by all his social equals as an honest God-fearin loyal true family values kind of guy. How could he not have had his worker’s personal safety and welfare uppermost in his mind. God forbid that his behavior was swayed by the lure of filthy lucre… Oh never mind, I just can’t make the defense stick. Why not a nice neck tie party for the bastard

Continue the discussion at forums.talkingpointsmemo.com

20 more replies


Avatar for system1 Avatar for ComradeAnon Avatar for milwaukeekent Avatar for mmurdoch Avatar for hobbitdave Avatar for deckbose Avatar for dweb Avatar for enon Avatar for wombat Avatar for wordnut Avatar for bluinmaine Avatar for canadian Avatar for water Avatar for tao Avatar for kitty Avatar for zlohcuc Avatar for grum Avatar for cazcee Avatar for palli Avatar for thunderclapnewman Avatar for teacher_kurt Avatar for hellslittlestangel Avatar for mrraleigh Avatar for wtf1

Continue Discussion
Masthead Masthead
Founder & Editor-in-Chief:
Executive Editor:
Managing Editor:
Associate Editor:
Editor at Large:
General Counsel:
Head of Product:
Director of Technology:
Associate Publisher:
Front End Developer:
Senior Designer: