National Public Radio’s Howard Berkes is reporting that both Massey Coal Co. and the federal Mine Safety and Health Administration are under investigation by the FBI.
Berkes reports: “Sources familiar with the investigation say the FBI is looking into possible bribery of officials of the Mine Safety and Health Administration, the federal agency that inspects and regulates mining. The sources say FBI agents are also exploring potential criminal negligence on the part of Massey Energy, the owner of the Upper Big Branch mine. Massey has been cited repeatedly for violations of federal safety regulations and unsubstantiated rumors have circulated for years that mine inspectors and other officials receive payoffs. The FBI declines comment and neither confirms nor denies that an investigation is ongoing.
“In a statement to NPR, Massey Energy says it is not aware of the allegations, and is fully cooperating with any investigations taking place. The Mine Safety and Health Administration has yet to respond to a request for comment.” (Massey CEO Don Blankenship above.)
Update: Ken Ward updates this story here. Various sources are denying the NPR report, but NPR is sticking by its story.