CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Investigators may not be able to get a look inside Massey Energy's Upper Big Branch Mine for another two weeks, and interviews with witnesses aren't likely to start until after that, officials said Wednesday.
Ron Wooten, director of the state Office of Miners' Health, Safety and Training, said officials need more time to repair the mine's ventilation system, which was damaged by the explosion. Once investigators get into the mine, they need to map the entire underground mine to record the damage and try to pinpoint the origin of last week's deadly explosion.
"That will take months," Wooten said.
A week after the April 5 explosion that claimed 29 lives, state and federal regulators were still plotting out plans for what will be one of the largest and most complex mining investigations in years.
At the same time, political pressure continued to build on state officials and on the U.S. Mine Safety and Health Administration.
U.S. House Labor Committee Chairman George Miller, D-Calif., on Wednesday afternoon released a list of what he called "dangerous mines," those that escaped tougher MSHA enforcement by appealing large numbers of citations and tying regulators up in court.
"Mine operators who game the system to avoid tougher scrutiny must be held accountable," Miller said. The complete list, which includes 22 West Virginia mines, is available online at http://edlabor.house.gov/documents/111/pdf/publications/missedPPOV.pdf .