Mason Adams Via Grist:
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It was mid-afternoon on the Monday after Easter, April 5, 2010, when a 1,000-foot longwall shearer, a massive piece of industrial coal-mining equipment, bit into sandstone, kicking up sparks and igniting a methane fireball that traveled down the Upper Big Branch mine in Raleigh County, W.Va., into an area rich with coal dust.
The resulting explosion ricocheted in several directions, tearing through two and a half miles of mine, killing 29 of 31 men working in the area and searing the mine into history as the site of the most deadly coal-related disaster in nearly 40 years.
Five years later, the explosion continues to reverberate, in the courts and elsewhere.
Former Upper Big Branch supervisor Gary May was sentenced to 21 months in prison after pleading guilty to disabling a methane gas monitor, falsifying mine records, and generally obstructing safety inspectors.