Bushies Let Political Contributor Off Easy for Spill, Says Whistleblower

The Bush administration suppressed an inquiry into a massive 2000 coal-slurry spill to protect a political contributor, says a whistleblower involved in the investigation. The accusation — the latest in a growing string from ex-administration officials — comes from Jack Spadaro, former head of the National Mine Health and Safety Academy, in an interview with CBS’s “60 Minutes” that will air on Sunday. Spadaro helped the Mine Safety and Health Administration investigate what he calls “the most serious environmental disaster in the history of the eastern United States”: a spill from a containment pool that poured some 300 million gallons of coal sludge into Kentucky and West Virginia water supplies. Massey Energy, the company that owned the offending facility, is a large contributor to the Republican Party. Spadaro says the MSHA curtailed his investigation — which found that Massey knew the pool was weak and had leaked before — and ended up charging the company with only two violations and levying a puny fine of $5,500. Spadaro then resigned from the investigation.