Articles by Vicki Smith

West Virginia Explosion Reminder of Risk of Natural Gas Pipelines

Nearly 15,000 miles of natural gas pipeline stretch across West Virginia, and as residents of this community north of Charleston now know, devastating explosions can happen without warning. Federal regulators say there have been 20 “significant” pipeline incidents involving deaths, …

West Virginia Mine Blast Probe Widens, Top Executives Could Be Next

Federal prosecutors investigating the West Virginia mine explosion that killed 29 men have widened their net, filing criminal charges against a longtime Massey Energy executive who worked closely with former CEO Don Blankenship — a move signaling where their sights …

West Virginia Widows Press Case for Mine Inspectors’ Liability

The widows of two West Virginia coal miners killed in a 2006 fire want the state Supreme Court to rule that private and federal mine safety inspectors can be held legally liable when workers die as a result of their …

West Virginia High Court to Decide Mine Inspectors’ Liability for Deaths

A federal appeals court said this week that the state Supreme Court should decide whether Mine Safety and Health Administration inspectors can be held liable for coal miners’ deaths, calling it “a matter of exceptional importance for West Virginia.” The …

Prosecutors Say Alpha Has Improved Mine Safety Since West Virginia Settlement

Alpha Natural Resources has significantly cut its accident and injury rates in the six months since a landmark $210 million settlement that spared the company criminal charges over the 2010 mine explosion that killed 29 workers, federal prosecutors say. Alpha …

West Virginia Residents Settle Final Slurry Pollution Claims with Massey

Hundreds of Boone County residents who blame coal companies for contaminating their water supplies settled their last remaining lawsuit with Massey Energy and four subsidiaries this week just as a trial was set to begin Tuesday. Both Massey’s new owner, …

Federal Healthcare Law to Aid Black Lung Victims

Proposed changes to U.S. Department of Labor rules would make it easier for coal miners and their families to obtain black lung benefits, while a West Virginia congressman aims to reduce the amount of paperwork they have to fill out …

West Virginia Mine Blast Survivors’ Cases Still Unsettled

Nine men who survived West Virginia’s Upper Big Branch mine disaster want to abandon mediation of their personal injury claims and start gathering evidence for trial because they say the mine’s new owner isn’t negotiating in good faith. The miners …

New Federal Safety Rules for Mines Finalized

Federal regulators are issuing a final set of rules for underground coal mine examinations that aim to hold operators more accountable for finding and fixing dangerous conditions — and preventing the deaths of their workers. The Mine Safety and Health …

Federal Healthcare Law to Aid Black Lung Victims

Proposed changes to U.S. Department of Labor rules would make it easier for coal miners and their families to obtain black lung benefits, while a West Virginia congressman aims to reduce the amount of paperwork they have to fill out …