Feds Probe Claim MSHA Warned W.Va. Mine Of Visits

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Federal prosecutors are investigating suggestions by the former superintendent of the Upper Big Branch mine that inspectors told miners they were coming.

The revelation came during Gary May's recent plea hearing. U.S. Attorney Booth Goodwin said he's following up.

Goodwin says his staff pays attention to what defendants say in court. That includes May's suggestion that Mine Safety and Health Administration inspectors participated in the mine's early warning system.

An April 2010 explosion killed 29 men.

Several investigations concluded workers routinely alerted miners underground when inspectors were onsite, allowing time to conceal hazards.

MSHA says it never heard from May until his plea hearing because he refused to cooperate in investigations.

MSHA says it will take appropriate action if prosecutors obtain and share evidence of misconduct.