An independent panel last Friday faulted Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) enforcement for the massive gas explosion that killed 29 miners in West Virginia almost two years ago.

The panel, appointed by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, examined the causes of the April 5, 2010, blast at the Upper Big Branch Mine South about 30 miles south of Charleston, WV.

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The panel concluded though mine operators ultimately were responsible for the blast, mine safety inspectors failed to take “appropriate actions during the inspections in the months prior to the explosion” that might have prevented the disaster or led to the mine being idled.

“If [mine safety inspectors] had engaged in timely enforcement of the Mine Act, and applicable standards and regulation, it would have lessened the chances of — and possibly prevented — the [Upper Big Branch] explosion,” the panel said.

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The panel concluded an earlier investigation by the MHSA was too narrow and failed to identify the problems.

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