During tests last month, investigators found more missing sprays on the shearer and also determined that some sprays on other parts of the longwall unit were not functioning properly, officials confirmed this week.
Shane Harvey, Massey's general counsel, said the company could confirm that six out of 109 sprays were missing, but that those figures were only for the longwall shearer itself.
"The sprays are used for suppressing respirable dust and we have not been able to tell whether they were missing before the explosion or are missing as a result of the explosion," Harvey said in an e-mail.
"I'm not aware of any evidence that anyone in mine management or on the crew was aware of the sprays being missing," Harvey said. "I will say that this was an experienced crew and I speculate that they would not have operated if missing sprays were causing trouble with dust."
When asked last month about the water-spray testing, MSHA officials said that they did not have a firm count on how many were missing and, once they did, would not make that information public until it was first shared with the families of the miners killed in the explosion.
On Thursday, MSHA spokeswoman Amy Louviere would not confirm any information about the outcome of the water-spray testing until agency officials schedule a meeting to provide that information to the families.
"That has always been our policy," Louviere said.
Reach Ken Ward Jr. at kw...@wvgazette.com or 304-348-1702.