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Feds: West Virginia mine may be permanently sealed

By Andy Rose, CNN
The Upper Big Branch Mine accident was the worst mining disaster in the United States since 1972.
The Upper Big Branch Mine accident was the worst mining disaster in the United States since 1972.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • It is the worst mining disaster in the United States since 1972
  • The mine had a spotty safety record
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(CNN) -- The owners of a West Virginia mine where 29 people perished in an explosion last year have agreed to permanently seal it, federal regulators said.

Massey Energy has filed a plan with regulators and the two sides are set to meet next week, said Amy Louviere, a spokeswoman with the Mine Safety and Health Administration.

The April 5, 2010, explosion at the Upper Big Branch Mine was the worst mining disaster in the United States since 1972, when 91 miners died in a fire at the Sunshine Mine in Kellogg, Idaho.

Don Blankenship, the company's now-retired CEO, had previously indicated the company hoped to reopen the mine.

The Big Branch Mine had a spotty safety record prior to the explosion, with three deaths reported over the previous 12 years.

Most of the blast victims were working in an area where long-wall cutting was taking place. The technique uses a large grinder to extract coal and creates large amounts of coal dust and methane gas, both of which are explosive.

 
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