MSHA outlines hearing process in investigation of Upper Big Branch Mine explosion
In addition to testimonial evidence, the MSHA panel will be able to subpoena documentary evidence that MSHA believes can help determine the cause of the accident.
Members of the families of the fallen miners will have an opportunity to offer their thoughts about the explosion, in person at a public forum, in writing or electronically. These public statements will be made available to the public and media on MSHA’s website and will be considered in the final accident investigation report. Family liaisons appointed immediately following the explosion will remain in regular contact with the families, and their input into the investigative process is encouraged.
MSHA officials will conduct a public town hall meeting to allow for an exchange of ideas on how to best create a culture of safety at all mining operations and to gather recommendations on how to improve mine safety as a whole.
Due to concerns about mine gasses produced by heating and/or fires, the investigation team has not been able to enter the mine to begin the physical examination. MSHA, the state of West Virginia and the mine owner continue to work to stabilize underground conditions.
“MSHA is committed to ensuring that the process moves forward in a timely and transparent manner, and will also make sure that its investigative process does not hinder any potential ongoing criminal investigations into the tragedy that happened at the Upper Big Branch Mine,” said Joseph A. Main, assistant secretary of labor for mine safety and health, in a written statement from MSHA.
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