Tuesday, September 26, 2023
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Former Coal Chief Gets Prison for Mine Blast

(CN) - Former Massey Energy CEO Donald Blankenship was sentenced to one year in prison on Wednesday for his role in the deadly 2010 Upper Big Branch Mine explosion in West Virginia.

U.S. District Judge Irene Berger have Blankenship the maximum sentence for his conviction on a misdemeanor charge of conspiracy to violate mine safety standards.

Berger also ordered the one-time titan of the coal industry to pay a $250,000 fine, and that he be sent to jail rather than be allowed to remain free while he appeals the case.

A federal jury convicted Blankenship on Dec. 3, 2015, after a trial in which he was described as a bully and micromanager who cut corners on safety at the Upper Big Branch Mine every chance he could.

Coal dust at the mine ignited roughly 1,000 feet underground on April 5, 2010. The explosion killed 29 of the 31 miners who were at work at the site at the time.

A state-funded independent investigation later found Massey Energy directly responsible for the blast.

But the former CEO has always disputed that finding, saying he believes the explosion was caused by natural gas seeping into the mine.

Blankenship was acquitted of felony charges that could have resulted in a 30-year prison sentence.

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