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NPR NEWS INVESTIGATION: Coverage of mine safety in the U.S. after an explosion at Massey Energy's Upper Big Branch Mine in West Virginia killed 29 workers.

NPR, 'Charleston Gazette' Ask Court To Unseal Massey Merger Files

The Charleston Gazette and NPR have together filed a legal motion with the West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals to open up records related to the merger of Alpha Natural Resources and Massey Energy, the company that operated the Upper Big Branch coal mine in West Virginia, where 29 mine workers died in a massive explosion in April 2010.

Ken Ward of the Gazette writes in his Coal Tattoo blog that the motion says, in part:

"Massey's conduct, the sale or potential sale of the company, the required public disclosure of relevant information concerning the value of the company to shareholders so they can make informed decisions, and the actions of the parties in this case is of great interest and concern both to the citizens of West Virginia, and nationally as well. ...

"In addition, there is a greater cause for public scrutiny of the filings in this matter in light of the April 5, 2010, explosion at Massey's Upper Big Branch Mine. ... The filings in this case likely will shed new light on Massey's acts and or omissions in relation to this tragedy. ...

"This litigation is the result of a highly controversial sale of one of the state's largest companies. It also includes important records concerning that company's acts and omissions in one of the worst mining accidents in recent history.

"If the Court seals the record and undertakes its review of the case in secret, the risk of losing the public's confidence in the judicial system is increased expotentially."

Copyright 2020 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Mark Memmott is NPR's supervising senior editor for Standards & Practices. In that role, he's a resource for NPR's journalists – helping them raise the right questions as they do their work and uphold the organization's standards.