By Mike Lillis - 09/02/10 09:55 PM EDT
Two executives for the mine company running the doomed Upper Big Branch (UBB) project roamed the mine unsupervised for four hours in the immediate aftermath of April's deadly explosion, NPR reported Thursday.
The executives for the Performance Coal Company, a subsidiary of Massey Energy, got as far as the longwall section of the UBB, NPR says, leaving some regulators to wonder if the men tampered with any evidence related to the blast.
“There’s an issue, whether it occurred or not, there's a question that's gonna come up of whether there was any tampering that took place,” Kevin Stricklin, chief mine official at the Mine Safety and Health Administration, told NPR.
Massey issued a statement denying that any tampering occurred, NPR reported. Rather, the executives were simply searching for survivors, the company said.