MSHA to Hold June Public Briefing on Upper Big Branch Mine Explosion

The Mine Safety and Health Administration recently announced that it will hold a briefing on June 29 to share with the public information gathered during the investigation of the explosion at the Upper Big Branch Mine in Raleigh County, W.Va.

The briefing will coincide with the one-year anniversary of the start of the underground investigation at the Upper Big Branch Mine and will be held at the National Mine Health and Safety Academy in Beckley, W.Va. Although the underground investigation and interviews are still ongoing, MSHA investigators will be able to compile additional relevant evidence by June in order to provide a substantive presentation to the public.

MSHA already has shared information with the families of the victims through several meetings and has released information gained during the course of the investigation on the agency's "Upper Big Branch Mine-South Massey Energy Co. Single Source Page" available at www.msha.gov/PerformanceCoal/PerformanceCoal.asp.

In June, MSHA intends to provide an overview of the physical evidence gathered in its investigation, as well as summaries of other evidence obtained by investigators. As has been the practice throughout this investigation, some information will remain confidential in light of the ongoing Department of Justice criminal investigation and requests by federal prosecutors to MSHA to limit the public release of evidence relevant to potential prosecutions.

"We take very seriously the need to keep the public informed as to what we're learning and when we're learning it," said Joseph A. Main, assistant secretary of labor for mine safety and health. "We also take seriously the efforts of the FBI and the U.S. attorney to bring to justice those who may have broken the law. Throughout this investigation, we've worked hard to balance those important goals."

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