West Virginia's governor Tuesday named a former head of the federal Mine Safety and Health Administration to lead a state probe into last week's coal mine explosion that left 29 miners dead.
Davitt McAteer has overseen investigations into two previous mine accidents, the Sago disaster that killed 12 miners in 2006 and the fire at the Aracoma Alma No. 2 mine that left two workers dead. The West Virginia native served as the Clinton administration's assistant labor secretary for mine safety in the 1990s and is currently vice president of Wheeling Jesuit University.
"Davitt has the experience and knowledge to lead what will be a complex and extensive investigation into this horrible accident," Gov. Joe Manchin said in a statement announcing McAteer's appointment. "We made tremendous progress in 2006 immediately following the Sago and Aracoma accidents, and I fully expect that we will learn even more from this and make dramatic changes to protect our miners."
The last bodies were recovered early Tuesday from the Upper Big Branch mine, the scene of the fatal explosion April 5. McAteer was critical of the mine's owner, Virginia-based Massey Energy, in the days following the blast, calling its safety record "checkered," but Massey says its procedures are among the best in the industry.