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Tue December 6, 2011
Coal Company Reportedly Set To Pay $200 Million In W. Va. Disaster
"The owner of West Virginia's Upper Big Branch coal mine is reportedly ready to pay $209 million to settle civil and criminal claims resulting from the explosion that killed 29 people last year," NPR's Howard Berkes reports.
He adds that:
"The settlement was first reported by the Charleston Gazette, and some details were confirmed by NPR. A private briefing about the settlement is scheduled Tuesday morning for the families of the victims. A public announcement is set later in the morning."
Update at 10:55 a.m. ET. Where The Money Will Go:
"There will be cash payments of $500,000 to each family member of someone killed in the disaster as well as to survivors of the disaster and that will take place within 15 days," Howard tells the NPR Newscast desk. "They'll get another $1 million each if they don't have settlements with Alpha Natural Resources [which took over the company that ran the mine] otherwise."
Most of the settlement money, he says, "is going for things like mine safety training" in West Virginia and money Alpha will have to "spend on itself to make safety improvements in its mines — improvements that it may have had to make anyway in the future."
Update at 10:50 a.m. ET. Individuals Could Still Face Criminal Charges:
Howard tells the NPR Newscast desk that this settlement does not preclude criminal charges against Massey Energy executives and managers. Massey was the mine's operator at the time of the disaster. The company has since been taken over by Alpha Resources.
"The U.S. Attorney says that this settlement will not affect his ability to bring criminal charges against individuals," Howard says. "It's a criminal settlement only involving Alpha Resources and Massey Energy as corporate entities."
Update at 10:10 a.m. ET: Based on what Howard's sources are now telling him, it looks like the total will be about $209 million. Earlier, sources were saying $200 million. We've updated our headline and the first line of this post to reflect that change.
Update at 9:52 a.m. ET: The Associated Press is reporting it's been told the settlement will total $210 million and the Gazette is saying it's "more than $200 million."