According to Bloomberg, legal representatives for the six claimed in a September 21 filing that the Office of Miners’ Health Safety and Training is incorrectly using its subpoena power to help federal officials from the US Mine Safety and Health Administration force them to be interviewed as part of the investigation into the blast, which killed 29.
“In August 2010, MSHA grew restless with the pace and consistency of appearances by witnesses it invited for voluntary interviews,” the company’s lawyers reportedly stated in the filing.
Subsequently, MSHA “importuned” the state agency to issue the subpoenas “compelling the attendance and testimony of those persons”
The company is also arguing MSHA has made “inflammatory public statements” about the operation “from the outset of its investigation” and has implied that the explosion occurred because of safety violations at UBB.
“MSHA has a substantial and immediate interest in making such allegations in order to deflect its own potential responsibility for the tragedy,” the filing reportedly noted.
The news service only indicated one of the six involved in the suit, Massey vice-president of safety and health Elizabeth Chamberlin.
Neither Massey nor WVOMHST officials responded to an ILN request for more details and comment, including a request for verification of the parties involved in the suit, by press time.
MSHA spokesperson Amy Louviere told several media outlets that the agency is not a party to the matter and does not comment on ongoing cases.
Keep watching International Longwall News for the latest information on the UBB mine explosion investigation.