Ken Ward Jr. of The Charleston (W.Va.) Gazette found that Sago Mine officials knew of a buildup of explosive methane behind mine seals where a Jan. 2 blast is believed to have occurred, in a two-day series of stories about the explosion. Twelve miners died in the explosion, making it the worst coal mining disaster in West Virginia in nearly 40 years. By examining transcripts of investigative interviews, Ward found that one mine official lied about having received safety training and another said his safety test notebook 'disappeared' after the explosion." The methane concentrations were not yet high enough to be ignited, and the general industry practice is to ignore mine areas that have been sealed." Mine safety experts now say the Sago test results appear to have been a warning that — if heeded — might have helped prevent the mining disaster. The paper has posted the transcripts online.
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