JULIAN, W.Va. -- Hours after Massey Energy and Alpha Natural Resources shareholders approved the $8.5 billion deal for Alpha to acquire Massey, Alpha CEO Kevin Crutchfield said his company was committed to "running right."
"We'll be doing great things for safety, the environment and the communities where we operate," Crutchfield said in a prepared statement at Massey's regional headquarters in Boone County.
Crutchfield, Senate president and Acting Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin, and a slew of state and local officials attended the unveiling of an Alpha sign outside the building on Wednesday. The name of the road leading up to the building was changed from Morgan Massey Drive -- for the longtime Massey president -- to Running Right Way, in honor of Alpha's safety program.
Later, Crutchfield offered a more concrete example of how Alpha would distance itself from Massey, saying that Massey vice president of operations Chris Adkins would not be continuing with Alpha after the merger.
Alpha spokesman Ted Pile confirmed that announcement, initially reported by National Public Radio. Crutchfield told NPR, "Chris [Adkins] will not be joining Alpha. I'm not going to say anything more about it."
The independent investigation into the Upper Big Branch Mine Disaster led by longtime mine safety advocate Davitt McAteer, had criticized Alpha's plan to place Adkins as co-director of Running Right after the acquisition.
According to McAteer's report, Crutchfield said he "Can't think of two better individuals to lead this effort," of Adkins and the Alpha executive who was to share the responsibility of Running Right with him.
Other Massey officials, including Shane Harvey, Chris Blanchard and Jason Whitehead, have been previously announced to be joining Alpha. All three were also involved with Upper Big Branch.
When asked if he had any concerns about Alpha putting Massey officials who were in charge of Upper Big Branch into positions of authority, Tomblin said, "I think that is one of those things that Alpha will have to determine if the people are doing the jobs they are supposed to be doing."
"We're all very excited that Alpha Natural Resources is once again re-establishing itself as a domestic industry leader right here in West Virginia," Tomblin said at the press conference. "I know that Alpha understands our obligation to take care of the men and women who work every day to provide energy mining coal for us."
More than 10 state and local officials attended the ceremony, including Sen. Ron Stollings, D-Boone, Sen. Corey Palumbo, D-Kanawha, Keith White, D-Mingo, and Kanawha County Commissioner Dave Hardy, who has represented Massey in court.
"We do have a lot of officials here and I think it shows the support, not only at the state level but at the county level, what we feel about coal mining and coal miners' jobs in Southern West Virginia," Tomblin said.
"We are absolutely committed to Running Right. In all aspects of our business it's the right thing to do by our employees, our business and the communities where we operate. It's also good for all of our stakeholders. Together we will set and achieve high standards for safety and the environment," Crutchfield said. "And we are going to involve everyone in this process. Everyone is going to have a voice."
After the ceremony Crutchfield avoided questions from local reporters, walking directly into the building with the politicians and leaving reporters outside.