UBB-dedicated facility to open soon

A SAFETY training facility is set to open next month as part of the agreement Alpha Natural Resources made with the US Attorney General’s Office following the Upper Big Branch mine explosion.
UBB-dedicated facility to open soon UBB-dedicated facility to open soon UBB-dedicated facility to open soon UBB-dedicated facility to open soon UBB-dedicated facility to open soon

Courtesy Massey Energy

Staff Reporter

The facility aims to prevent mine accidents such as the UBB disaster that killed 29 miners in April 2010.

In an email, Alpha told The State Journal that the Running Right Leadership Academy in Julian, West Virginia would open its doors in June.

"We are looking forward to the dedication of the Running Right Leadership Academy," Alpha spokeswoman Samantha Davison said, adding that it would dedicate the facility to the UBB victims.

"This 130,000 square foot campus is a state-of-the-art comprehensive education facility and training ground for mine safety and operations.

“The curriculum being offered includes technical skills, safety and leadership.

“In addition to traditional classroom work, there will be plenty of hands-on training including a 96,000 square foot lab that can simulate real underground mine situations and conditions.

“The academy demonstrates Alpha's commitment to our people and the future of our industry."

According to The State Journal the facility will house classroom space for up to 300 people and a virtual reality theater with a 3D underground cut sequence simulator.

There is also a virtual reality lab with simulators for a continuous mining machine, roof bolter, scoop and haul truck.

Labs for electrical and maintenance skills training are included, plus facilities and equipment for supervisory leadership skills training.

Investigations into the UBB disaster found it was a largely preventable explosion of a sudden combustion of methane gas and coal dust.

The mine was owned by Massey Energy at the time but was acquired by Alpha in 2011.

The $209 million non-prosecute settlement between Alpha Natural Resources and the Office of the Attorney General was established in December 2011.

Under the deal’s complete terms, Alpha paid $34.8 million to resolve outstanding citations, violations and orders stemming from the federal UBB investigation as well as from other non-UBB related matters involving legacy that Massey divisions incurred prior to the acquisition.

It paid $46.5 million to the families of the dead UBB workers, with $16.5 million already paid out or being paid in settlements.

The third component was a $48 million trust to fund research and development projects for the improvement of miner health and safety, which resulted in the establishment of the Alpha Foundation.

One of the largest chunks of the settlement, $80 million, was earmarked for investments over two years to add safety measures at legacy Massey mines and Alpha mines.

It included ongoing safety skills and compliance training, construction of the training facility and the development of “next-generation” mine safety equipment.

At the time of the settlement the attorney general said it was designed to protect jobs that Alpha could provide the state, as well as ensure some level of justice and restitution to family members.

It would also increase the safety of the state's coal mines while allowing prosecutors to go after individuals within the Massey operation.

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