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Sunday, May 19, 2024 | Back issues
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Mine Owner to Pay $209 Million for 2010 Disaster

(CN) - An energy company will pay $209 million to settle charges over the deadly April 2010 mining explosion in West Virginia, which killed 29 and injured two, prosecutors said Monday.

Alpha Natural Resources acquired the Massey Energy, the company that owns the Upper Big Branch mine in Montcoal, W.Va., six months ago.

"Today's agreement represents the largest-ever resolution in a criminal investigation of a mine disaster and will ensure appropriate steps are taken to improve mine safety now and will fund research to enhance mine safety in the future," Attorney General Eric Holder said. "While we continue to investigate individuals associated with this tragedy, this historic agreement - one of the largest payments ever for workplace safety crimes of any type - will help to create safer work environments for miners in West Virginia and across the country."

U.S. Attorney Goodwin said that Alpha's $209 million investment will go toward changing the mindset "that catastrophic accidents are an inherent risk of being a coal miner."

The nonprosecution agreement requires Alpha to invest at least $80 million in mine-safety improvements at all of its underground mines, including those formerly owned by Massey. Another $48 million will go to a trust for mine-safety research.

Families of the 29 killed miners and the two injured workers will receive $1.5 million each, for a total restitution payment of $46.5 million.

The Mine Safety and Health Administration will also collect up to $34.8 million in penalties from Alpha, which is still liable for all penalties that arise from the UBB accident investigation.

Prosecutors say the settlement addresses only the corporate criminal liability of the former Massey, not potential criminal charges for any individual. The criminal investigation of individuals associated with Massey remains ongoing.

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