April 5th, 2012
01:40 AM ET

Upper Big Branch mine to be permanently sealed

The Upper Big Branch coal mine, where 29 people were killed in a blast two years ago Thursday, will be permanently sealed by the summer.

Crews will seal with concrete the portals that allow entry to the mine, plug boreholes and cap mine fan shafts, said the mine's new owners Alpha Natural Resources.

"Though two years have passed, everyone still has vivid memories of the tragedy and the suffering the miners' families endured," said company Chief Executive Officer Kevin Crutchfield. "For all of us in the mining industry, it is a solemn reminder of why we must always put safety first in everything we do at work and at home."

The explosion at the West Virginia mine on April 5, 2010, was the deadliest U.S. mine disaster since 1972, when 91 men died in a fire at the Sunshine Mine in Kellogg, Idaho.

In a December report,the Mine Safety and Health Administration found a methane ignition that set off flammable coal dust was the immediate cause of the 2010 explosion.

But it also blamed the "unlawful policies and practices" of then-mine owner Massey Energy Co., which it said "promoted and enforced a workplace culture that valued production over safety."

Alpha Natural Resources bought Massey in 2011 and has agreed to a $209 million settlement to avoid prosecution. The deal includes payments of $1.5 million to each family that lost a member in the blast.

Post by:
Filed under: Mine accidents • U.S.
soundoff (4 Responses)
  1. Superman

    Partial closure for the families, the money is nice but does not bring back loved ones,loss of jobs not good could of been avoided by not cutting corners,a lesson learned

    April 5, 2012 at 1:45 am | Report abuse |
  2. banasy©

    The use of "unlawful policies and practices" has always plagued the mining industry.
    Most accidents that one hears about involves "unlawful policies and practices".
    I am glad they are sealing this up.

    April 5, 2012 at 9:18 am | Report abuse |
  3. leeintulsa

    so the new owners bought it to seal it up and pay the families?

    that makes no sense to me..

    April 5, 2012 at 10:52 am | Report abuse |
  4. Venta Gorras Monster

    "Venta Gorras Monster http://comprar-gorro-monster-lana-es.webnode.es/" hello,isinglings your comments named "Upper Big Branch mine to be permanently sealed – This Just In – CNN.com Blogs" on a regular basis. Your writing style is witty,keep it up!thx "Venta Gorras Monster http://comprar-gorro-monster-lana-es.webnode.es/"

    March 10, 2014 at 7:01 am | Report abuse |