Labor & Employment

Owner to Pay Record $209M re W.Va. Mine Explosion That Killed 29

The owner of a West Virginia mine that exploded in 2010, killing 29 men, will pay a record $209 million to resolve its criminal and civil liability concerning the disaster and what officials called a workplace culture that valued productivity over safety and ignored applicable law.

The agreed payment by Alpha Natural Resources, the parent company of Massey Energy, the subsidiary that operated the mine, is the largest ever in a government mine disaster probe, the New York Times reports.

The amount includes a record-high fine of $10.8 million by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Mine Safety and Health Administration, $46.5 million in payments to victims killed and injured in the disaster and their families, $80 million in safety and infrastructure improvements to all of the companies’ mines, another $48 million to create a mine health and safety foundation and $35 million in fines and fees to the DOL.

The Charleston Gazette first reported the settlement yesterday.

It prevents the company itself but not responsible managers from being criminally charged, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of West Virginia.

Related coverage: (Oct. 2009): “OSHA Hits BP Refinery With Monster $87.4M Fine; 15 Died in 2005 Explosion” (April 2010): “Mining Companies Stall Tougher Safety Laws with 18K Backlogged Appeals” (Sept. 2011): “Feds Blame BP Shortcuts for Gulf Oil Spill in New Report Released Today”

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