mines

Ashton Marra, WVPB

Former Massey Energy CEO Don Blankenship is scheduled to be released from an Arizona halfway house on Wednesday after serving a year in federal prison.

Blankenship was found guilty of conspiring to violate federal mine safety standards in December, 2015, after a federal investigation of the 2010 Upper Big Branch Mine disaster in West Virginia. An explosion at the mine in April, 2010, killed 29 men.

The U.S. Attorney argued that the explosion was the result of a conspiracy under Blankenship’s leadership to shirk safety laws in order to increase production and profits.

flickr/Creative Commons

The U.S. Department of Labor has approved new rules it says will improve safety at the nation's most dangerous coal mines by revising the way operators are designated pattern violators.

Labor Secretary Hilda Solis said they improve the Mine Safety and Health Administration's ability to hold mine operators accountable for disregarding life saving safety measures. MSHA chief Joe Main says they're long overdue and could prevent 1,800 injuries over ten years.

The changes were proposed after the Upper Big Branch mine exploded in April 2010, killing 29 men.

A published report says state investigators found few problems at a Harlan County mine where federal investigators found enough violations during a surprise safety blitz in May to shut the mine down for nine days.