An investigation by NPR has discovered an illegal act that occurred at the mine months before the catastrophic explosion that killed 29 miners in May. The investigation revealed that on February 13, 2010, an electrician disabled a methane gas monitor on a mining machine, after being ordered to do so by a mine supervisor.
Allegedly, the methane monitor was continually shutting down the mining machine. According to witnesses, the electrician was ordered to bridge the shutoff mechanism. According to some witnesses, the electrician told people not to say anything, and acknowledged the bypass was dangerous. Massey, the company that operates the mine, says that the incident occurred, but disputes the reason for bypassing the methane monitor.
It is not clear how this incident fits in with ongoing FBI investigation into the accident.