Massey Energy Responds to The New York Times Article

Apr 23, 2010, 14:39 ET from Massey Energy Company

JULIAN, W.Va., April 23 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ -- Massey Energy Company (NYSE: MEE) issued the following statement today regarding The New York Times article earlier today.

(Logo: )

In an article published this morning, The New York Times draws a link between the TECO E3-1 mine and the Upper Big Branch mine operated by Massey Energy.  It is especially noteworthy that the Times did not ask to visit any Massey mine through the course of its reporting to get a first hand view of our operations and safety practices.  Every mine in the United States is different due to location, operational factors, geologic conditions, size and output volumes.  

The April 5 tragedy at Massey Energy's Upper Big Branch coal mine in West Virginia, where 29 members of our company's family of members died, has attracted intense public attention to the accident and our company, and understandably so.  We, too, are shocked and in a state of grief by the terrible loss of life. It occurred despite the enormous emphasis we have put on safety over the past 20 years.

Clearly, something went wrong at Upper Big Branch. But we simply don't yet know what it was. If there was improper conduct regarding operations and safety, there will be accountability. What we do know is this: accusations that Massey Energy is indifferent to safety could not be more wrong. Our company puts the safety of its members first -- and always first.

Serious accidents that lead to loss of life in any industry are typically not the result of one, easily identifiable cause. Instead, they usually result from a complex interplay of contributing forces. Separating those strands of forces can take time and intense, expert study. That is why it is so important that for this accident, as for others, there be no rush to judgment about its cause.

Here are some points we would like to emphasize:

  • The "glory hole" shaft was filled and sealed according to a plan approved by MSHA.  The Company is unaware of any issues or concerns with the effectiveness of the plan. In fact, the glory hole was inspected by federal and state officials routinely.
  • The story suggests Massey mines use inadequate amounts of ventilation.  It is a company policy that Massey mines use substantially more air than required by law.
  • Massey miners receive more training than required by law.
  • Massey has an anonymous toll-free number for reporting safety concerns and an open door policy as well.  Massey does not terminate or discipline miners for speaking out about safety concerns.
  • Massey disciplines or terminates individuals swiftly for safety violations, depending on seriousness.

Massey continues to work closely with Federal and State agencies to determine the cause of the accident.

Massey Energy Company, headquartered in Richmond, Virginia, with operations in West Virginia, Kentucky and Virginia, is the largest coal producer in Central Appalachia and is included in the S&P 500 Index.

SOURCE Massey Energy Company