In the ongoing investigation at the Upper Big Branch mine in West Virginia, new evidence uncovered by federal officials says that a handheld meter had detected explosive levels of methane before the blast which killed 29 miners.
This is the first real evidence of dangerous gas concentrations in the mine before the April 5 explosion.
Mine Safety and Health Administration official Kevin Stricklin said that the meter detected 5% methane in the Raleigh County mine’s atmosphere. As methane gets explosive once it makes up 5 to 15% of the atmosphere it is considered an important sign in what is considered the worst coal mining disaster in 40 years in the U.S.
Massey Energy, The fouth largest coal company in the US has recently settled with four families of miners killed in the explosion. Details were unconfirmed but it is believed that Massey has offered $3 million to the families who agreed not to file wrongful death suits. These may be damage prevention measures by the company which is facing a civil investigation besides a federal criminal probe from the U.S. Attorney’s office in Charleston.