Coal Company Had Twice Settled Court Cases By Promising Safety Upgrades

The release says that its safety violations have occurred at a rate "consistent with national averages," though mining experts have disputed that, saying the mine was one of the region's more serious offenders. Davitt McAleer, a former top federal mine safety official, told ABC News that the number of violations raised "serious red flags."

In a statement that echoed the comments made by Massey CEO Blankenship, the company said it has invested heavily in keeping its miners safe. "Massey continues to invest in the development of safety innovations that exceed industry and regulatory standards," the company said. "Our lost-time incident rate has been better than the industry average for 17 of the past 19 years and has been improving significantly.  These improvements have been achieved through concerted effort and significant investment."

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