WV Mine Explosion Trial Update

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CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) — One of the government’s top witnesses is testifying about a once-confidential safety assessment he gave of Massey Energy under its former CEO, Don Blankenship.

In Charleston federal court Tuesday afternoon, former Massey safety official William Ross began his testimony in Blankenship’s criminal trial.

Ross’ comments about Massey’s safety problems in a 2009 confidential memo are a focal point for prosecutors. In a phone call Blankenship secretly recorded, he once said the memo would be a terrible document to show up in discovery during a lawsuit if there were to be a fatal mine accident.

Blankenship is charged with conspiring to break mine safety laws at Upper Big Branch Mine and lying to financial regulators about safety. The mine exploded in 2010, killing 29 men.