This morning, it was reported that the FBI is now probing U.S. Officials and Massey Energy, allegedly investigating bribery of officials of the Mine Safety and Health Administration, the federal agency in charge of inspections and mining regulation. While it is important to note that these are merely allegations, this represents a significant turn of events in the coal mine investigation.
April 2010 Archives
Mine officials confirmed that two Kentucky coal mine workers have been found dead in Hopkins County, Kentucky. Just weeks after the West Virginia mine disaster, two miners were trapped in a coal mine collapse last night. Over 30 rescuers worked through the night to try to recover the miners, but Kentucky Governor Steve Beshear confirmed this afternoon that both miners have been found dead.
A Transocean Ltd. oil rig, contracted to BP, exploded off the coast of Louisiana and then sank, likely causing 11 deaths and significant environmental damage. On Friday, rescue workers called off the search for 11 missing workers.
Two doctors are asking a federal court in Minnesota to reject the plea agreement between medical device maker Guidant LLC, owned by Boston Scientific Corp, and the U.S. Attorney General, resolving charges the company withheld information about its defibrillators from the FDA. Drs. Robert Hauser and Barry Maron were the physicians treating one young patient whose defibrillator, made by Guidant, did not function as needed and allegedly caused his death. The plea agreement allows the company to plead guilty to two misdemeanor charges and agrees to a fine of $296 million, the largest criminal penalty ever levied against a medical devices company.
On April 21, the SEC filed a complaint against a Miami business man for allegedly creating a $900 million offering fraud and Ponzi scheme to defraud investors. The Commission claims that Nevin K. Shapiro told investors their money would go to a grocery diversion company that would provide a risk free investment and earn high profits. Instead, the money went to the oh, so stereotypical, mansion, yachts and high livin'.
A lawsuit, surely to be the first of many stemming from the April 5 explosion at the Massey Upper Big Branch coal mine, was filed on April 15. A widow of one of the 29 miners who lost their lives in the blast has sued Massey Energy and its operating subsidiary, Performance Coal, for the wrongful death of her husband.
This case is a shot of irony, served straight up. In fact, it would even be funny, if it weren't quite so awful. On Aug. 21, 2009, a drunk driver hit and seriously injured an elderly couple, 81 year-old Ellen Collier and her husband Edwin Collier, 85. Mr. Edwin Collier is a retired judge, in fact the same judge who had the same driver appear before him in court. At the time, Judge Collier spared that defendant time in jail over a DUI.
West Virginia Governor Gov. Joe Manchin has appointed the Clinton Administration U.S. Mine Safety and Health Administration chief, J. Davitt McAteer, to head an independent investigation of the explosion at the Massey Energy Upper Big Branch coal mine. The death toll from the explosion in that mine now stands at 29. In reports, McAteer has already been critical of current safety standards and the lack of transparency by government and mine officials when dealing with safety regulations.
The questions over safety standards at the Massey Energy Corporation's Upper Big Branch coal mine have begun. By April 7, it was reported that the company had been cited for 600 safety violations in less than a year and a half. Some of these violations were in connection with the failure to properly ventilate methane, the gas thought responsible for this week's massive explosion.
As of this morning, rescue workers are still waiting to resume the effort to search for survivors of the late afternoon blast which occurred at the Massey Energy Upper Big Branch Mine in Montcoal, West Virginia. The odds that any survivors remain are bleak. The day of the blast, 25 miners were already reported dead, two hospitalized and four still missing.
A major fire at the Tesoro Corp oil refinery plant in Anacortes, Washington erupted early in the morning of April 2, killing four, and critically injuring three more. According to the report from Reuters, the fire started in the highly flammable naphtha unit, which was undergoing maintenance, at 12:30 a.m. PST. Naphtha is a liquid that boosts gasoline octane to make the premium grades of gasoline necessary to some of the higher-performance cars.
Among the many sex abuse scandals hitting the Catholic Church and now beginning to approach the Vatican itself, is one March 30 report from Florida. Attorneys for alleged victims claim a later defrocked priest, known for years for his work with immigrant children and adolescents had many claims of abuse attached to his name that the Archdiocese of Miami and even the Vatican were aware of and did nothing about. The Miami lawyers for the victims say this case is similar to the one unfolding in Wisconsin regarding abuse by a priest at a school for the deaf.
The strenuous internal debate within the FDA regarding the risks posed by CT scans to test for cancer in otherwise healthy patients has gone public. The average lifetime dose to a medical patient of radiation has increased seven times since 1980, mostly due to the increase in CT scans. Scientists concerned about the effects of such an increase are taking their opinions to the public this week at a meeting called by the FDA.