(08/19/2010)
Government investigators have cited Massey Energy for failing to report more than 20 accidents at its Upper Big Branch coal mine in the two years before an April explosion killed 29 miners.

The Mine Safety and Health Administration says four of the alleged violations directly involve the tragic explosion.

The rest occurred between January 2008 and early 2010.

The failure involves unreported roof collapses, assorted injuries and two instances of miners exercising their right to move out of dusty areas of the mine because they've contracted black lung disease.

All incidents were supposed to be reported, say officials.

MSHA discovered the violations while performing an audit stemming from its investigation of the mine explosion.

The Upper Big Branch explosion is also the subject of a federal criminal investigation.

Other citations allege Massey failed to report a variety of accidents resulting in injuries, including one that "resulted in temporary total disability," and others that required miners to miss work, get stitches and treat a fracture.

The latest citations raise new questions about Massey's safety record.

Massey routinely points out that its rate of serious accidents that cause miners to miss work is among the best in the industry.

MSHA said Tuesday it is also fining a Massey Energy subsidiary more than $542,000 for violations that contributed to a fatal accident at a Virginia mine in 2009.

Massey Energy, a company with a lengthy record of environmental and safety abuses, amassed an estimated $2.4 billion dollars worth of fines.

In 2008, a federal judge approved a deal that required Massey to pay a record $20 million fine to resolve thousands and thousands of alleged unpaid violations across the Appalachian coalfields.


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