Years After Deadly Explosion, Coal Boss Talks Straight With Brian Ross

Don Blankenship was CEO of Massey Energy during the Upper Big Branch disaster in 2010.
7:46 | 04/08/14

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Transcript for Years After Deadly Explosion, Coal Boss Talks Straight With Brian Ross
have our producer shot. Don Blankenship, a powerful, widely despised businessman accused of skipping on safety measures on his coal mine where 29 men died. Despite our unpleasant run-in, the other day Blankenship agreed to go head-to-head with chief reporter Brian Ross. Reporter: Before his company was accused of cutting corners on safety that led to the death of 29 miners. Don Blankenship -- the CEO of Massie energy was already a despised feared figure by many in America's coal country. This is how he greeted an ABC news producer six years ago. But now, facing possible federal criminal charges in the investigation of the mine disaster, Blankenship showed up at ABC news seemingly gentler but still full of venom to make the case he has been misunderstood. I think everybody is despised by some. How about yourself? Like yourself. A lot of people despise your views. So it is Normal. Reporter: Why do you think you are despised? Because I do the right thing. Reporter: Because you do the right thing? Yes. Reporter: Not because you do the wrong thing? Cut corners on safety? Never did. Reporter: Never did. Never did. Reporter: That is not what state and federal investigators found in the investigation of the disaster and what was called the upper big branch mine. Officials said the men, age 20 to 61 were trapped 1,000 feet underground after a massive explosion of built up methane gas and coal dust. The federal safety report concluded if basic safety measures had been in place there would have been no loss of life at upper big branch. I believe, you know that don has blood on his hand. And I believe that justice will be done. I have got to believe that. In my heart it will beef done. Reporter: To defend himself, Blankenship has paid hundreds of thousand of dollars to produce this 50-minute film called never again that presents him as a champion of mine safety. This documentary is further evidence of his taking his responsibilities seriously. Even at great risk and expense to himself. Reporter: Families of the miners killed in the disaster in West Virginia are jut raged at what they call Blankenship's shameless self promotion. I think he is a liar. He is a murderer. He is the devil. Awe off the film repeats Blankenship's long held contention the fire in the mine was caused by a natural gas like that could not have been prevented. I don't think anything in place in the industry at that moment would have prevented it. State and federal investigators say they took a close look at Blankenship's natural gas like theory and dismissed it as an effort by hem to shift the blame away from the allegedly lax safety practices at this company. Made the suggest in June 2010. His characterization is simply a sham. It was production ahead of safety. The film include interview with Joe mansion who now says he was lied to and never would have appeared if he had known it was for Blankenship. Don is taking in millions of dollars that he made off the sweat and blood of the miners and using it now frying to turn things around and vindicate himself. Talk about a cynical approach to something that is heartless. That's about as the bad as it gets. Blankenship's film takes on the news media. We now see reporters, unions and the government ignored the evidence that supports a theory that makes sense. Especially ABC news. America's coal mining country. Of bias before I asked him the first question. I've don't mind talking to you. We know it will be biased. You think it will be by yalsed? You will have time to cut the tapes up and make this look the way you want it to. Blankenship, you need to pay. Reporter: In West Virginia last week many relatives of the minors that died, appropriate tested outside the federal building demanding the government quickly bring criminal charges against Blankenship. The United States attorney, booth Goodwin told ABC news, the investigation is of the highest priority. We are committed to prosecuting anyone that is responsible for -- for the conditions that led to this horrible tragedy. So far, four former Massie company employees have been convicted in the investigation. And one, David hugart, the man on the right told the court that Blankenship was part of of a conspiracy to evade federal save inspections. Ape very powerful person. A conspiracy to violate mine safety and health laws. That has been evident at most recently in the prosecution of Mr. Hubert, you mentioned. And that conspiracy was very pervasive. Blankenship denies any role in that. Absolutely not. I am not part of any type of behavior like that. Have you been told that you are under investigation yourself? Not directly. I think that, it's -- obvious that that is probably the case. That they have looked at -- everything. Do you expect to be indicted? I've don't know. You don't? No. While Blankenship appears in his own film and made the round of media outlets. Awe off the king of coal its here. Welcome, don. Thank you. Reporter: He refused to testify during the investigations of the mine disaster. Reporter: You took the fifth amendment? I refused to show up. If I had been compelled by a court to show up. I would have showed up. Reporter: Your lawyer said you were invoking your right not to incriminate yourself. What was it you were afraid Offen krof of incriminating yourself with. The only thing don Blankenship is trying to do is build his image up again. I feel dishonored. It breaks my heart we have to go through this again. Reporter: For many of the families, the final outrage is how Blankenship's film makes extensive use of the names and photos of their loved ones with violin music in the background. Supposedly to show his concern for their fate. It is all just, I can't believe he is doing this. He is just -- like, rubbing our noses in it. Hurting, hurting all these families again. Have you manipulated this tragedy for your own benefit? I don't see any benefit in this to me. Do you have any sense of shame? No. To use the images like this? I think a lot of the families appreciate what is being done. And some maybe not. I don't know. Reporter: You think some of the families appreciate this documentary? Yes. Reporter: Have you talked to them? No, I haven't. Reporter: How would you know that? Well because I know how high would feel. Whatever don Blankenship does. All of these families, he is just making us tired. He is making us stand together harder and firmer and we are going to fight longer and harder. He might have more money, but he ain't got more fight. Now the families are fighting for what they say would be justice. Criminal charges brought against Blankenship. For them that would be a powerful message to hold corporate executives accountable for the safety of the 90,000 Americans who go to work in coal mines every Dave in this country.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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