Williamson, W.Va. - Don Blankenship, former CEO of Massey Energy, issued the following statement in response to United Mine Workers President Cecil Roberts' statement today:
"United Mine Workers (UMWA) President Cecil Roberts has issued a press release saying that the television ads I am funding are an attempt to re-write history. Roberts repeats the ridiculous untruth that four responsible investigation reports all determined that the Upper Big Branch (UBB) explosion was a coal dust explosion."
"It’s important for the public and the media to understand that MSHA (Mine Health and Safety Administration); the UMWA; Davitt McAteer and Senator Manchin controlled all four investigation reports on UBB and they were neither independent nor responsible."
"The facts are that Cecil Roberts; then MSHA Chief Joe Main (a former direct employee of Cecil Roberts); Senator Joe Manchin who Cecil Roberts and the union have politically supported for many years; and Manchin's personally selected investigator and former MSHA Chief Davitt McAteer are not at all independent. They are all supporters and fans of one another."
"They all supported President Obama for election and all their reports supported Obama's declaration made prior to any UBB investigation that management was at fault."
"The UBB facts are simple and easily proven. Adequate mine airflow is the most critical element to avoiding both gas ignitions and gas explosions. The Mine Safety and Health Administration required that the miners reduce their airflow in half shortly before the UBB natural gas explosion. The government's own witnesses testified to this fact under oath at my trial."
"The public was misled not only by the false conclusions of these four biased and irresponsible reports but also via public communications by MSHA in which they continually said the explosion was begun by a "methane" ignition. The word "methane" was intentionally used (as it is again in Roberts' press release) instead of "natural gas" so that the public and the media would not focus on the fact that the explosion was not a more common "coal bed methane" explosion but rather a rare "natural gas" explosion. This is a significant fact as coal bed methane and natural gas are both predominantly composed of methane but the miners’ ability to prevent a natural gas explosion is far more limited. In either case the key to preventing any explosion like UBB experienced is to allow more airflow throughout the mine not less."
"The scientific facts are clear. The explosion was neither "dirty enough, powerful enough nor hot enough" to have been a coal dust explosion. Coal dust explosions are far hotter than gas explosions and material in the mine that would have melted in a dust explosion did not melt. Additionally, equipment and other material were not blown as great a distance as a dust explosion would have blown it. Finally, there was not enough dust imbedded in melted and re-solidified material for it to have been a dust explosion."
"For the "Sake of Coal Miners" Cecil Roberts and Senator Manchin need to learn and tell the truth about UBB. We will continue to publicize the truth much to the dismay of Roberts and others who don’t want the truth to be known. It should be clear to Congress and everyone else that MSHA cannot continue to investigate accidents at mines it regulates and simply blame coal miners for every accident that occurs."