Senator: Coal Boss Has 'Blood on His Hands' in Mining Disaster

Former Massey Energy CEO Don Blankenship self-funds film he says vindicates him in deaths.
3:00 | 04/02/14

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Transcript for Senator: Coal Boss Has 'Blood on His Hands' in Mining Disaster
ABC news investigation. Brian Ross, back with us, one-on-one, with a man accused of presiding over one of the worst mining disasters in American history. 29 workers trapped by an explosion deep underground four years ago. And tonight, families of the miners say there is a new outrage. What is it? ABC's chief investigative correspondent, Brian Ross, right now, with the story. Reporter: Even before the mine disaster, don Blankenship was despised and feared by many in coal country. This is how he once greeted ABC news. Let go of me. Let go of me. Reporter: But his reign as the CEO of Massey energy came to an end after lax safety practices were blamed on the deaths of 29 men 4 years ago this week in the company's upper big branch mine. In West Virginia. Officials said most of the men, ages 20 to 61, working 1,000 feet underground, were trapped in small groups, starved of oxygen, a thousand feet underground after a massive explosion of built-up methane gas and coal dust. At the time, Blankenship told Diane sawyer, it was a safe mine. I think everything you do in life has risk. Reporter: But federal investigators later concluded, if basic measures had been in place, there would have been no loss of life at the upper big branch mine. We'll prosecute whoever who was maybe responsible for the conditions that led to this horrible tragedy. Reporter: So, this week, facing the possibility of federal criminal charges, Blankenship showed up at ABC news, seemingly gentler, but still full of venom, to make the case, he's been misunderstood. I think everybody's despised by some. Like yourself. A lot of people despise your views. So, it's Normal. Reporter: Why do you think you are despised? Because I do the right thing. Reporter: Because you do the right thing? Yes. Reporter: It's not because you do the wrong thing? No. Reporter: You cut corners on safety? Never did. Reporter: And as part of his self-promotion campaign, Blankenship spent hundreds of thousands of dollars to produce a 50-minute film called "Never again," to refute the official accident findings and present him as a champion of mine safety. And this documentary is further evidence of his taking his responsibility seriously, even at great risk and expense to himself. Reporter: Some are calling it a shameful piece of propaganda that will not work. I believe that don has blood on his hand. And I believe that justice will be done. I've got to believe that. 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 who were killed. It was like a slap to our faces that he would do this. Reporter: Do you have a sense of shame? To use these images like this? I think that a lot of the families appreciate what's being done. And some, maybe not. I think he's a liar. He is a murderer. He's the devil. Reporter: Today, some of those family members demonstrated outside the federal courthouse in West Virginia, demanding criminal charges be brought against Blankenship. For them, that would be a powerful message to hold mine bosses accountable for the safety of the 90,000 Americans who go to work every day in mines in this country, Diane. Thank you, Brian. Staying on the story, tonight.

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

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