EYEWITNESS LOCAL NEWSWV, Ky. Mining Operations Receive MSHA Notice About Pattern Of Violations
from Eyewitness News Online
Reported by: Jeff Morris
Web Producer: Jeff Morris
Reported: Oct. 24, 2013 4:11 PM EDT
Updated: Oct. 24, 2013 4:38 PM EDT
The U.S. Department of Labor’s Mine Safety and Health Administration announced Thursday that two West Virginia mining operations and one in Kentucky have been put on notice for a pattern of violations of mandatory health or safety standards.
The three mines that received notices are Tram Energy LLC’s Mine No. 1 in Floyd County, Ky.; Brody Mining LLC’s Brody Mine No. 1 in Boone County, W.Va.; and Pocahontas Coal Company LLC’s Affinity Mine in Raleigh County, W.Va., according to a news release from MSHA.
MSHA’s review covered all 14,600 of the nation’s mines. The agency is still reviewing the injury records of several mines to determine if they should be considered for a notice based on this screening.
Under the Mine Act, MSHA is authorized to issue a notice to mine operators that demonstrate a disregard for the health and safety of miners through a pattern of significant and substantial violations.
A Pattern of Violations (POV) notice, one of the agency’s toughest enforcement actions, is reserved for the mines that pose the greatest risk to the safety of miners. An S&S violation is one that is reasonably likely to result in a reasonably serious injury or illness. The Mine Act requires mines that receive POV notices to be issued withdrawal orders – effectively ceasing operations – for all S&S violations.
Tram Energy’s Mine No. 1 received 120 S&S violations during the POV review period — more than half of those violations involved elevated levels of operator negligence. MSHA issued 40 closure orders at Tram Energy during the POV review period, the most of any mine in the country. The company has incurred about $170,000 in civil penalties since it began operating in 2012. All but $666 is unpaid and delinquent.
Brody Mining’s Brody Mine No. 1 received 253 S&S violations during the review period. An MSHA audit of Brody Mining’s records found that injuries of miners resulted in 1,757 lost work days at the mine, 367 of which were from eight lost-time injuries that Brody Mining failed to report to MSHA. The company was also audited during the 2012 POV screening process. In that audit, MSHA found 29 injuries Brody Mining failed to report and 724 unreported lost work days.
Pocahontas Coal Company’s Affinity Mine received 124 S&S violations during the review period, a quarter of which MSHA cited as involving high negligence or reckless disregard for the health and safety of miners. Two miners died in separate accidents during the review period; the fatalities occurred within two weeks of each other and both involved scoops. Affinity Mine received 35 closure orders during the review period, the third highest in the country.
The new rule eliminated the requirement that MSHA consider only fully adjudicated orders in its POV review, shifted responsibility for monitoring compliance to the mine operator and mandated that operators submit corrective action programs to proactively address issues that could lead to a POV.
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