A Massey Energy security official has been convicted by a jury for his role in covering up the coal company’s culpability for the Upper Big Branch Mine explosion that killed 29 miners in April 2010. Former mine security director Hughie Elbert Stover was found guilty on Wednesday for lying to investigators and “seeking to destroy thousands of security-related documents,” and faces up to 25 years in prison. Stover called his attempt to destroy the documents the “stupidest, worst mistake” in his life. Stover is the second person who has been charged in the investigation so far.
On Tuesday, the United Mine Workers union charged that Massey Energy and its CEO Don Blankenship have committed “industrial homicide.” In a 154-page report, UMW President Cecil Roberts asks, “Why didn’t Don Blankenship shut this mine down?” The report details how a “rogue corporation, acting without real regard for mine safety and health law and regulations” “established a physical working environment that can only be described as a bomb waiting to go off”:
Massey Energy must be held accountable for the death of each of the 29 miners. Theirs is not a guilt of omission but rather, based on the facts publicly available, the Union believes that Massey Energy and its management were on notice of and recklessly tolerated mining conditions that were so egregious that the resulting disaster constituted a massive slaughter in the nature of an industrial homicide.
“We’ve got a security guard who has been indicted, but Don Blankenship can’t figure out how to spend all of his money,” UMW President Cecil Roberts said.
“The investigation continues, so it’s premature to say we haven’t brought justice or we haven’t gone after the real villains,” U.S. Attorney Booth Goodwin told reporters after Stover’s conviction.