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Mine safety agency to close portions of its investigation

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  1. Freedom of Information
The Labor Department's mine safety agency is pressing forward with a plan to conduct private interviews during its investigation into…

The Labor Department’s mine safety agency is pressing forward with a plan to conduct private interviews during its investigation into the April 5 explosion that killed 29 mine workers over the objections of news organizations that asked for transparency.

The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press and eight other media organizations last week urged the department’s Mine Safety and Health Administration to conduct open witness interviews during its hearings into the Upper Big Branch mine disaster. Though the administration yesterday announced a series of public proceedings, they will only occur once all of the private interviews have been completed.

The administration also said that the contents of the interviews will be released at the conclusion of its investigation "unless an interviewee requests confidentiality or it would otherwise jeopardize a potential criminal investigation." Previously, agency policy was to release transcripts of witness testimony on an ongoing basis.

The United Mine Workers of America said yesterday that it intends to file a lawsuit challenging the closed nature of the proceedings.