UBB report release date set: WVOMHST

WEST Virginia state mining officials have confirmed to International Longwall News that it is finalizing its closing investigative report into the Upper Big Branch mine explosion and will release its findings on February 23.
UBB report release date set: WVOMHST UBB report release date set: WVOMHST UBB report release date set: WVOMHST UBB report release date set: WVOMHST UBB report release date set: WVOMHST

The Upper Big Branch mine

Donna Schmidt

On Monday, West Virginia Office of Miners’ Health, Safety and Training spokesperson Leslie Fitzwater said a family briefing would be held that morning at the Raleigh County Convention Center in Beckley.

Details of the timings for the gathering were not released as it was closed to the public and the media.

Fitzwater said the public would be permitted to a Coal Safety Board meeting which would be held in the afternoon, with the report released at the same time.

The confirmation comes after a MetroNews report last week quoting agency acting director Eugene White which said the state’s findings would be made available by the end of February.

The US Mine Safety and Health Administration released its final investigation last December.

Other reports already released included those from the United Mine Workers of America and an independent panel commissioned by former governor Joe Manchin.

White, who spoke at a joint meeting of the House and Senate judiciary committees regarding mine safety early last week, reportedly said the WVOMHST had implemented numerous changes post-UBB, including the placement of two inspectors at the state’s larger mines after a single inspector assigned to the mine prior to the explosion was overwhelmed by its size.

Meanwhile, the agency is dealing with staffing issues – 12 state inspector slots had been added in 2011 but only seven have been filled.

Meanwhile, 27 of its staffers left their positions last year.

The US Attorney’s Office criminal probe is also pending.

Last month, US Attorney for the Southern District of West Virginia Booth Goodwin told media outlets that while it realized there was much frustration over the delay, a release date could not be projected.

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