In national safety news:

Don Blankenship, the longtime CEO of Massey Energy, was indicted Thursday on charges that he orchestrated the routine violation of key federal mine safety rules at the company’s Upper Big Branch Mine prior to an April 2010 explosion that killed 29 miners. A federal grand jury in Charleston charged Blankenship with conspiring to cause willful violations of ventilation requirements and coal-dust control rules — meant to prevent deadly mine blasts —during a 15-month period prior to the worst coal-mining disaster in a generation.

The four-count indictment, filed in U.S. District Court, also alleges that Blankenship led a conspiracy to cover up mine safety violations and hinder federal enforcement efforts by providing advance warning of government inspections.

The 43 page indictment also contains several examples of alleged internal intimidation. In one incident one mine manager claimed that he received a handwritten note from Blankenship in March 2009 “chastising him” for “insufficient attention to cost-cutting.” Blankenship told the manager, “You have a kid to feed. Do your job.” That same mine manager at Upper Big Branch was told, when he wasn’t producing as much coal as Blankenship demanded, “I could Khrushchev you. Do you understand?”

Read full coverage from The Charleston Gazette here.

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