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Probe of Massey coal mine disaster widens; ex-president charged

November 28, 2012|By Richard Serrano
  • Chunks of coal bearing the names of the 29 miners who died in the explosion at a Massey Energy Co. mine in W. Va. in 2010.
Chunks of coal bearing the names of the 29 miners who died in the explosion… (Amy Sancetta / Associated…)

WASHINGTON -- The former president of a Massey coal mine in West Virginia was charged with conspiracy to violate federal safety laws at various company mining sites in a widening criminal probe that began after a 2010 explosion that killed 29 miners.

David C. Hughart, former president of Massey’s Green Valley Coal Co., agreed to plead guilty and cooperate with federal law enforcement agents investigating allegations that company officials ordered workers to violate standards for maintaining airflow through mines and limiting combustible coal dust, all allegedly in attempts to maximize profits over employee safety. He also was charged with a misdemeanor count of conspiracy to violate safety laws.

Hughart is the highest-ranking official charged so far in the spreading federal investigation.

"Miners deserve a safe place to earn a living," said Booth Goodwin, the U.S. attorney in Charleston, W.Va. "Some mine officials, unfortunately, seem to believe health and safety laws are optional. That attitude has no place in the mining industry or any industry."


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