The FBI is interviewing current and former employees of Massey Energy Co. in a criminal probe of the West Virginia mine explosion that killed 29 men. According to media reports, the FBI has been looking for any evidence that the company engaged in criminal negligence. National Public Radio has reported that the Mine Safety and Health Administration is also under investigation. The FBI is examining possible bribery of officials at the agency that oversees the mining industry and possible criminal negligence on the part of Massey, according to the NPR report. A Massey spokesman said Massey Energy was aware that investigators were interviewing witnesses, but said the company didn’t know the nature of the investigation.
Prompted by the separate mine accident in Kentucky, President Obama says his administration is taking steps to demand accountability for safety violations and to “strengthen mine safety so that all of our miners are protected.” The FBI probe of the accident at the Upper Big Branch coal mine followed strong statements two weeks ago in which the President criticized the company. On April 15th, President Obama asked the Secretary of Labor to work with the Justice Department “to ensure that every tool in the federal government is available in this investigation.” The President observed at the time:
Safety violators like Massey have still been able to find ways to put their bottom line before the safety of their workers — filing endless appeals instead of paying fines and fixing safety problems.
Massey Energy called the President’s remarks “regrettable” and said that “unfortunately, some are rushing to judgment for political gain or to avoid blame.” This company has a terrible safety record and the President’s remarks were on target in my opinion.
Source: Associated Press
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