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He vowed to fight every day to make the safety of miners a priority.

“All the miners across the country who kiss their families goodbye before leaving for a shift should know that they will return home again safely,” he said.

An MSHA internal review concluded that federal inspectors either missed problems or failed to examine areas where they existed in the 18 months before the blast but found no evidence those failures caused it.

But a team led by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health recently concluded that timely enforcement of existing regulations “would have lessened the chances of — and possibly could have prevented” the explosion.

Although MSHA inspectors wrote 684 violations in the 18 months before the blast, the agency said they failed to act on eight that could have been deemed “flagrant,” the most serious designation. They also failed to conduct special investigations on at least six occasions to determine whether managers knowingly violated safety standards.

MSHA director Joe Main said last week those cases have since been turned over to federal prosecutors.