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Settlement reached in tragic 2010 mining accident

People in Columbus, Ohio may remember the terrible coal mining accident that occurred in April 2010. It left 29 men dead and would have certainly led to a large amount of wrongful death lawsuits if a settlement had not been reached recently.

Alpha Natural Resources-the organization which purchased the company owning the mine after the explosion-agreed to pay $210 million. About $46.5 million of the settlement will be used to pay grieving families. It will also go towards the payment of fines for years of violations and will fund the many safety improvements that U.S. regulators believe are necessary at the mine where the explosion occurred. According to those regulators, nearly 370 different safety violations had been counted at the mine. Twelve of those had contributed to the explosion that killed the 29 miners.

Approximately $10.8 million of the $210 million settlement will go towards fines that have been levied against the company for those safety violations found at the mine by federal investigators. Nine of the violations were labeled flagrant by the Mine Safety and Health Administration. A total of $35 million will be used to pay for violations that the company had been fined for in the past.

MSHA blamed worn cutting tools for the ignition of the blast. According to the agency, Massey Energy had been allowing coal dust and methane gas to accumulate to dangerous levels for quite some time. They believe it was just a matter of time before the company's value of production over people caught up with them. The United Mine Workers of America as well as loved ones of the victims have said that if MSHA knew the safety of workers at the mine was compromised, they should have shut it down.

Source: Fox News, "$210M settlement reached in W.Va. mine explosion," Dec. 6, 2011

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