Curtis Tate Published

12 Years Later, Upper Big Branch Families Remember The 29 Miners Lost

The families of the miners killed in the Upper Big Branch disaster marked its 12th anniversary on Tuesday.

A ceremony was held at noon at the memorial in Raleigh County to the 29 mine workers who lost their lives on April 5, 2010.

Investigators found that a buildup of methane and coal dust contributed to the fatal explosion.

Massey Energy CEO Don Blankenship was convicted in 2015 of violating federal mine safety law. He was sentenced to a year in prison and paid a $250,000 fine. In December, a federal appeals court denied Blankenship’s bid to have his conviction overturned.

In 2011, Alpha Natural Resources, which acquired Massey, paid a $210 million settlement that included compensation for the miners’ families, fines and safety upgrades.

Coal mine fatalities have declined sharply in recent years with a decline in coal production.

Five mine workers have been killed on the job this year, according to the Mine Safety and Health Administration, following 10 fatalities in 2021 and five in 2020.