BEAVER -- Family members of the 29 miners killed in the worst mining disaster in the United States in nearly 40 years say they want justice more than money.
"You can't put a dollar amount on my husband. I want to see who is going to be indicted next," said Gina Jones, 39, of Beckley. "I was there when they found [Hughie Elbert] Stover guilty and I'll be there for the next."
Family members gathered Tuesday at MSHA's training academy to be briefed on the agency's final report on the disaster at the Upper Big Branch mine in April 2010 that killed 29 miners and severely injured two others. They were also advised that officials have agreed to accept $200 million in fines, victim restitution and mine safety improvements to settle enforcement actions and some criminal matters. However, some individuals may still face criminal prosecution.
Hughie Elbert Stover, a former Raleigh County deputy and longtime security director at Upper Big Branch, was found guilty of two felony counts of making a false statement and trying to cover up records in a federal investigation.
"We want those responsible all taken away from their families like what has happened to us," said Jones, whose husband Edward Dean Jones was killed in the explosion.
Other family members echoed her sentiments.
"It's just beginning. We've only just gotten the information, the future is ahead and this isn't ending anytime soon," said Judy Jones Petersen of Charleston. Edward Dean Jones, who had worked in the Performance Coal Company mine for 14 years, was her brother.
Family members were told that Alpha Natural Resources would pay the $200 million in fines, victim restitution and mine safety improvements. Last June, Alpha bought Massey Energy's assets, which included the Performance Coal mine where the disaster occurred.
"That amount of money is meaningless to a multi-million-dollar organization," Jones Petersen said. "It's an embarrassment for MSHA and the Department of Labor. Nobody finds that to be acceptable. They should be automatically shut down."
Edward Dean Jones' twin brother, Gene Jones, 51, of Charleston, said he finds it particularly disturbing that officials have found the explosion could have been prevented.
"It's shameful the things that went on ... we had no idea it was that bad," Gene Jones said. "My brother came out in pieces."
Philip Cash, 40, of Elkview, who lost his father-in-law, said the law needs to be changed to allow officials to impose fines that are "enough to make them hurt."