JULIAN – Massey Energy directors have asked the U.S. Mine Safety and Health Administration to hold a public hearing on the explosion that killed 29 miners at Upper Big Branch mine on April 5.

"Transparency is an important element of this process, and we accordingly call for MSHA to conduct its investigation through a public hearing rather than through closed door sessions," Massey stated in a May 5 press release.

"Any hearing must encompass the basic principles of due process," it stated.

"To the greatest possible extent, basic protections must be in place to ensure that the hearing develops a complete and balanced public record," it stated.

Massey directors and MSHA regulators have blamed each other for any ventilation flaws that contributed to the explosion.

On April 26, Massey director Stanley Suboleski said MSHA required changes that reduced the volume of fresh air to the area that exploded.

He said, "The longwall at Upper Big Branch was not operating with the same ventilation system that it began with in September."

He said Massey engineers resisted the changes.

MSHA public affairs director Amy Louviere replied that Massey had two choices, to repair the condition or revise the ventilation plan.

She wrote that MSHA issued failure orders in January because Massey could not effectively maintain the ventilation system.

She wrote that "the operator elected to revise the plan."

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