CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) — In ex-Massey Energy CEO Don Blankenship's trial, former mine supervisors testified about being pushed to produce more coal despite poor conditions underground before a deadly 2010 mine explosion.
Media outlets report that in Charleston federal court Monday, former section foreman Richard "Smurf" Hutchens recalled unrealistic coal production goals at Upper Big Branch Mine. He said a supervisor threatened to fire him if he didn't meet production goals, despite regularly being behind on cleaning up his section.
Former superintendent Rick Hodges and fire boss Larry Adams said Upper Big Branch never had enough workers to both produce coal and maintain safety.
Blankenship is charged with conspiring to break mine safety laws and lying to financial regulators about safety at the West Virginia mine, which exploded in 2010, killing 29 men.