Whitesburg KY

Coal miner wants roof bolt job back

A hearing was scheduled for today (Wednesday) to determine if an underground miner should be reinstated to the job he claims he was forced out of because he wouldn’t illegally install bolts used to hold up the mine’s roof.

The miner, Mark Gray, charges that he was fired from his job at North Fork Coal Co.’s No. 4 mine at Partridge after he refused to bolt the roof in unsafe conditions. North Fork Coal is a subsidiary of Black Mountain Resources.

The hearing for temporary reinstatement under the federal Mine Safety Act was scheduled to begin at 9 a.m. Wednesday in Wise, Va., before Judge Gary Melick, an administrative law judge with the Federal Mine Safety and Health Review Commission.

The complaint against North Fork Coal was filed on Gray’s behalf by the U.S. Department of Labor. North Fork Coal is being represented by the Abingdon, Va., law firm of Penn Stuart and Eskridge.

Gray is also being represented by Lexington attorney Tony Oppegard, who specializes in miner safety cases. Oppegard said Gray was fired two days after he told the mine’s section foreman that he would “no longer bolt deep cuts.”

Oppegard said Gray is an “impeccably honest” miner who in the past has been asked to testify on mine safety issues by the federal Mine Safety and Health Administration.

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