Ted Pile, an Alpha spokesman, said the company is in compliance with the settlement agreement with Goodwin's office, and declined to comment on the coal-dust violations.
Goodwin's office, though, released a copy of a May 17 letter from Victor Hou, a New York lawyer representing Alpha, to Steve Ruby, the lead prosecutor on Goodwin's Upper Big Branch team.
In the letter, Hou said Alpha began taking steps to improve Massey operations immediately after the June 2011 merger -- long before the settlement with prosecutors.
"This process included adding safety and technical engineering positions at mining operations to address safety issues," the letter said. "Newly appointed compliance managers conduct safety audits of underground operations and provide oversight and expertise on issues such as mine planning.
"Alpha has brought in both special teams and outside consultants to assist its subsidiaries in assessing and correcting safety issues," the letter said. "As a result of these efforts, the company has seen an overall decline in the number of coal dust-related citations issued to its subsidiaries since the merger."
Alpha said, "a significant number of staff were assigned" to address compliance issues, including "compliance with the legal requirements relating to combustible material and to prevent accumulations of coal dust and loose coal."
The letter said some mining sections were shut down to improve compliance, and that staff "worked a significant amount of overtime to meet this directive."
After the settlement with Goodwin's office, Alpha required each of its underground mines to submit a plan detailing how they would "address incombustible material and the prevention of accumulations of coal dust and loose coal for each mine at that operation."
Alpha's letter said that 80 plans were submitted to corporate safety officers John Gallick and Brian Keaton in February "for review and feedback."
"Upon review of the plans and further discussions with the Business Unit Presidents, Mr. Gallick and Mr. Keaton were able to confirm that all underground mine operators have a cleanup plan in place for incombustible material and for preventing accumulations of coal dust and loose coal," the letter stated.
The letter said "internal certification" of these plans took place by Feb. 27, in advance of the 90-day deadline in the settlement agreement.
Reach Ken Ward Jr. at kw...@wvgazette.com or 304-348-1702.