In the process of pleading guilty to two federal crimes related to the ongoing federal investigation of Massey Energy following the 2010 Upper Big Branch Mine disaster, former Massey Energy executive David Hughart implicated former CEO Don Blankenship in providing advance warning when MSHA inspectors were arriving.

A methane explosion ripped through Massey Energy’s Upper Big Branch Mine on April 5, 2010, killing 29 miners. Subsequent investigations have uncovered safety and leadership failings at Massey Energy prior to the incident. In federal district court in Beckley, W.Va., on Feb. 28, David Hughart, former president of Massey’s Green Valley Resource Group, admitted that he and others at Massey conspired to violate health and safety laws and concealed those violations by warning mining operations when MSHA inspectors were arriving to conduct mine inspections. 

Ken Ward Jr. of The Charlestown Gazette reported that during questioning, Hughart implicated former CEO Don Blankenship: “The judge pushed Hughart, asking him to explain exactly what ‘higher ups’ he had worked with to provide advance notice of MSHA inspections. Hughart responded, ‘the chief executive officer.’ He did not mention Blankenship by name, and did not name any other Massey officials.”

In a statement sent to EHS Today, Blankenship’s attorney, William W. Taylor III, said, in part, “Don Blankenship did not conspire with anybody to do anything illegal or improper. To the contrary, Don took every step to make the mines under his responsibility safer.”

“We are not concerned about Mr. Hughart’s recollections. People often remember untrue things when they are attempting to reduce a possible prison sentence,” Taylor added.

Massey Executive Pleads Guilty to Federal Crimes, Implicates Don Blankenship
EHS Today