Mine Safety Administration Uses Enforcement Rule for First Time in 33 Years

Friday, April 15, 2011
Joe Main
After more than 30 years, the Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) has decided to flex its muscles at the coal mining industry, warning two operators to fix safety violations or face being shut down.
MSHA officials have told Bledsoe Coal Corp.’s Abner Branch Rider Mine in Kentucky and New West Virginia Mining Co.’s Apache Mine in West Virginia to correct safety problems that were supposed to be addressed last year. If the companies don’t respond in a timely manner, the regulatory agency will use its authority—which has sat idle since the Mine Act was enacted in 1977—to shutter the mines in question.
“We’re trying to send a message to the mining industry that you do not want to go down this path,” Joseph Main, head of the MSHA, told the media. “We’re hopeful that we’ll make mines safer.”
Main pointed out that since the two mines were inspected in 2010, violations of safety rules have gone up, not down, giving federal regulators the sense that the operators weren’t taking the agency’s concerns seriously.
If the mines are closed, the agency will not allow them to reopen unless they pass “a complete clean, wall-to-wall inspection without one violation,” said Main.
-Noel Brinkerhoff
U.S. Warns Mines on Safety, Using Rule for First Time (by Kris Maher, Wall Street Journal)
MSHA Issues Strictest Penalty on 2 Coal Mines (by Dan Majors, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette)


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