The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

Latest News

November 30, 2012

1 dead after Alpha mining accident in W.Va.

Worker killed early Friday at a Greenbrier County coal mine

West Virginia mine safety officials say a 27-year-old worker was killed early Friday in an accident at a Greenbrier County coal mine owned by a subsidiary of Virginia-based Alpha Natural Resources.

It happened around 1:30 a.m. at the Pocahontas Mine A White Buck Portal near Rupert, said Leslie Fitzwater of the state Office of Miners’ Health Safety and Training.

Alpha identified the victim as Steven O’Dell of Mount Nebo, an employee of its Alex Energy subsidiary who was working as an electrician at the Pocahontas Mine.

“We are all saddened by the loss of a talented colleague and friend,” said Alex Energy President Craig Boggs.

State officials say O’Dell had three years of mining experience — two and a half at the Rupert mine.

Odell was caught between a scoop and a continuous mining machine, Fitzwater said. He was later pronounced dead at Greenbrier Valley Medical Center in Ronceverte.

It’s the state’s sixth mining fatality this year.

The last death at the White Buck mine in Greenbrier County was on July 1, 2010, when 60-year-old electrician Wilbert Ray Starcher was run over by a piece of heavy equipment.

A federal Mine Safety and Health Administration accident report found the driver couldn’t see Starcher because someone had welded a piece of metal onto the vehicle that obscured his vision. The report says the mine’s owner at the time, Massey Energy, later removed the obstruction and trained miners to notify equipment operators before walking on the mine’s haulage road.

Alpha later bought Massey for $7.1 billion. It didn’t immediately comment on the latest accident.

The mine is owned by White Buck Coal Co., an Alpha subsidiary that made news earlier this week when a former president, David C. Hughart, was charged with criminal conspiracy.

Hughart is cooperating with federal prosecutors in their continuing investigation of the Upper Big Branch mine disaster, an April 2010 explosion at another former Massey operation that killed 29 men. It was the worst U.S. mining disaster in four decades.

Prosecutors say Hughart worked with unnamed co-conspirators to ensure miners at White Buck and other, unidentified Massey-owned operations got advance warning about surprise federal inspections many times between 2000 and March 2010.

Those illegal warnings allegedly gave workers time to conceal life-threatening violations that could have led to citations, fines and costly shutdowns.

U.S. Attorney Booth Goodwin said Hughart is prepared to plead guilty to the charges, which carry the possibility of six years in prison. No hearing dates have been scheduled.

1
Text Only
Latest News
  • pittsburgh rally 5,000 rally in Pittsburgh against EPA Clean Power Plan

    The echo of people chanting, “Hey, hey, EPA, don’t take our jobs away” could be heard in downtown Pittsburgh Thursday.

    The voices came from about 5,000 United Mine Workers of America (UMWA) members and their families, along with other unions such as the Boilermakers and the Brotherhood of Electrical Workers International (IBEW), marching through the streets.

     

    August 1, 2014 1 Photo

  • Alpha plans to idle coal workers

    Approximately 1,100 employees at 11 Alpha Resources-affiliated surface mines, preparation plants and other support operations in southern West Virginia got notice late Thursday afternoon that their jobs could be in jeopardy.

     

    August 1, 2014

  • New rules to fight black lung disease kick in today

    Joe Massie has spent the last 22 years of his life fighting a disease that takes his breath away, a disease he contracted deep underground in the coal mines over a period of 30 years. 

    Black lung may take away his breath; it has not stilled his voice.

    August 1, 2014

  • target red Zero tolerance Target Red campaign hopes to lessen intersection crashes

    It happens every day.

    A driver hurries on his or her way to work, school or maybe nowhere in particular. Just ahead, a green light turns yellow. With a little more gas, the vehicle just might be able to clear the intersection before that light turns red. Or maybe not. 

    August 1, 2014 1 Photo

  • Alpha announces intention to lay off 1,100 surface miners

    The announcement dealt another blow to Appalachia's iconic, but dwindling, fossil fuel industry. The company said 2015 industry forecasts show Central Appalachian coal production will be less than half of its 2009 output. It's due to a combination of familiar factors, Alpha said: competition from cheaper natural gas, weak domestic and international markets and low coal prices.

     

    July 31, 2014

  • Justice mines have violations in 5 states

    A West Virginia coal billionaire has more than 250 pending violations at mining operations in Kentucky and four other states.

    July 31, 2014

  • VA Greenbrier clinic to remain closed

    The Department of Veterans Affairs Greenbrier County Community Based Outpatient Clinic will remain closed due to ongoing correction of environmental concerns. 

    July 31, 2014

  • prezarrested.jpg Protesters arrested at UMWA Rally in Pittsburgh

    After marching from the David L. Lawrence Convention Center to the William S. Moorehead Federal Building in downtown Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, around 15 United Mine Workers of America (UMW) leaders were arrested.

    July 31, 2014 1 Photo 2 Stories

  • Mercer shooting sends one to hospital

     One person has been shot following an apparent altercation in the Montcalm area of Mercer County.

    July 31, 2014

  • UMWA1.jpg More than 5,000 protesting new EPA rules at rally

    Today, 73 buses will bring miners and UMW members to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, for a labor rally and march through downtown Pittsburgh.

    July 31, 2014 1 Photo 1 Story