BROOKWOOD, Ala. (AP) — A nighttime explosion at a gas pipeline in rural western Alabama is being investigated by federal agents, authorities said Friday, and a company said it was offering a reward of $25,000 for what she called a labor dispute attack.
Someone called 911 around 11:40 p.m. Wednesday and reported hearing a loud noise along a road in eastern Tuscaloosa County, said investigator Jessica McDaniel, a spokeswoman for the sheriff’s office. of Tuscaloosa County.
No one was injured, she said, and state and federal bomb squads were called after officers realized an explosion had occurred in a pipeline, located near the Entrance to a coal mine operated by Warrior Met Coal Inc. The pipeline, owned by the company, was damaged, an industry group said in a statement.
Agents from the FBI and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives are investigating, FBI spokesman Paul Daymond said.
Warrior Met Coal, where United Mine Workers of America workers have been on strike for nearly a year, said he believed the explosion was an “attack” related to a labor dispute. He offered the reward in a statement from the Alabama Mining Association, a trade group that also called the blast an attack.
“As a critical infrastructure industry, it is imperative that we protect our assets from acts of violence and vandalism to ensure public safety,” the mining group said.
Union spokesman Phil Smith said he “condemns violence in all its forms, whether it is the violence the company continues to subject our members and their families to by unnecessarily extending this strike, or any other violent act”.
“Both parties must work to settle this strike,” he said.
The United Mine Workers went on strike April 1, 2021 at two company facilities with more than 1,100 workers after contract negotiations with Warrior Met Coal failed to produce an agreement. The union and the company accused each other of violence during the walkout.
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