Mine Owner Faces Safety Citations

Wednesday, March 30, 2011 @ 04:03 PM gHale

Massey Energy Co. is now facing more than 80 safety violations in the latest round of special inspections targeting troubled mines in the United States, the federal Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) said.

The Massey citations top the list among the 166 citations issued at eight mines in five states during special inspections in February, MSHA said.

“MSHA has been conducting these targeted inspections for nearly a year and, while some operators have been responsive and showed a willingness to change, others continue to commit the same serious violations,” said Director Joe Main.

The agency started impact inspections after 29 miners died in an explosion at Massey’s Upper Big Branch mine in West Virginia April 5 last year.

Two Massey mines in West Virginia and one each in Virginia and Kentucky accounted for more than half the violations issued nationally during impact inspections last month. MSHA also cited three non-Massey coal mines in Kentucky and Alabama and a stone quarry in Pennsylvania.

“We treat citations seriously and we are working diligently to constantly improve safety at our operations,” said Jeff Gillenwater, a spokesman for Richmond, Va.-based Massey.
MSHA said it issued 43 citations at Massey subsidiary Process Energy’s No. 1 mine in Pike County, Ky. Nearly 42 percent involved significant and substantial violations considered more likely to result in injuries, MSHA said.

At the other three Massey operations, the rate of serious violations was above 60 percent, MSHA said. That included 11 serious violations cited at subsidiary Elk Run Coal’s Seng Creek Powellton mine about 40 miles south of Charleston in Boone County.

A previous impact inspection at Seng Creek last September turned up serious violations that MSHA said could have caused an explosion, including cutting too deeply into the coal seam and skipping mandatory tests for explosive gases. Massey said at the time it fired or suspended several miners at Seng Creek.

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