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October 17, 2012
New mine safety foundation is a result of 2010 disaster

Mine officials and researchers were on hand for the opening of a $48 million mine safety and health research foundation in Charleston, West Virginia. It was funded as part of a $209 million payment by Alpha Natural Resources in connection with the April 2010 Upper Big Branch (UBB) mine disaster, where 29 miners were killed.

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Alpha acquired Massey Energy Company, which owned and operated the mine, in June 2011. As part of the same agreement, Alpha will spend at least $80 million in innovative mine safety enhancements including an $18 million miner training facility in Julian, West Virginia.

U.S. Attorney Booth Goodwin, whose office investigated the tragedy, commented that “The tragedy at UBB was a bitter reminder that we have much more work to do in mine safety and health. This foundation honors the memory of those lost at UBB with an unprecedented effort to make mines safer.”

Potential areas for research include black lung disease, technology to prevent explosive buildups of gas and dust in mines, better mine communication systems, and improved mine rescue capabilities.

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