An independent study concludes that the West Virginia coal mine explosion that killed 29 men last year was the result of safety failings by owner Massey Energy Co.
"The disaster at Upper Big Branch was man-made and could have been prevented had Massey Energy followed basic, well-tested and historically proven safety procedures," investigators wrote in the study, which was released today.
The investigation, commissioned by the state's former governor, rejects the company's argument that the disaster was triggered by a sudden gas buildup.
It said said Massey violated basic safety practices, including not ventilating the tunnels enough.
The study supports the federal government's theory that methane gas mixed with huge volumes of explosive coal dust turned a small fireball into a preventable earth-shattering explosion.
Though critics often claim Massey puts production over safety, it's a charge the company vigorously denies. But the report's narrative delivers a scathing assessment of Massey, saying deviance from the industry's accepted safety standards was the norm.