An MSHA affidavit states that a coal mine electrician and his manager had disconnected an alarm on a methane ventilation fan right before a 1968 mine explosion in West Virginia that killed 78.
The explosion prompted an investigation from 1970 through 1990, and the MSHA eventually concluded that methane had accumulated the day before the blast due to inadequate ventilation that may have been nonexistent in some areas. MSHA hasn’t given a reason for what sparked the blast.
Now a class action lawsuit has been filed against the manager involved and Consolidation Coal Co. of St. Clairsville, Ohio. According to The Expononent Telegram, the affidavit also contends that the electrician and his superior acted “at the direction of” Consolidation Coal Co., according to a court filing.
The electrician is believed to still be living in Marion County, W.Va. Also according to the filing, the affidavit contends that prior to April 3, 2015, the inspector who did the affidavit never shared with anyone that (the electrician) told him on Sept. 15, 1970, that he and his superior, Alex Kovarbasich, disconnected the alarm on the fan prior to the explosion.
The lawsuit is seeking $110,000 for the estate of each miner killed, as well as punitive damages, and alleges fraud, concealment and nondisclosure.
For more details on this complex situation, see the report in the Exponent Telegram.