CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Former coal executive Don Blankenship told the Daily Mail Wednesday he has funded a documentary about the Upper Big Branch mine disaster, which claimed the lives of 29 miners on April 5, 2010.
“For now all I care to say is that I have funded a documentary to explain what happened at UBB and to hopefully help avoid it happening again,” Blankenship said in an email.
The documentary will be out next week — the same week as the four-year anniversary of the explosion at the Raleigh County mine — according to a tweet from Blankenship’s personal Twitter account.
“In honor of UBB victims and … miner fatalities since I retired a documentary will be out next week on what really happened at UBB,” Blankenship tweeted Wednesday afternoon.
Blankenship provided no other details about the project.
The disaster and Blankenship have been the subject of numerous documentaries, though this is likely the first funded by the former CEO.
Facing serious scrutiny and public outcry over the disaster, Blankenship resigned from his position with Massey Energy in December 2010.
Many blame Blankenship and the company for the disaster.
In public statements since leaving the company Blankenship has defended its actions and denounced reports that lay any blame on Massey for the disaster. In November he told radio host Hoppy Kercheval the disaster came as a result of “MSHA ventilation changes and natural gas inundation.”
The Mine Safety and Health Administration, a state investigation and a report by J. Davitt McAteer — a former coal official under President Bill Clinton — all concluded these were not the causes.
Instead, these reports point to poor ventilation, dangerous amounts of coal dust, a corporate atmosphere that valued profit over safety and a poor safety record.
Blankenship disputes the validity of those reports…