Whitesburg KY

Letcher mine gets notice from MSHA

Federal regulators have declared a small underground coal mine at Deane a repeat violator for failing to report injuries or underreporting lost work time.

The Mine Safety and Health Administration announced last week it has placed the Dennis Creg Yonts’ Mine No. 2 on “potential pattern of violations status.” The mine is operated by Vision Coal.

The PPOV designation allows MSHA to shut down and evacuate any section of a mine when a serious violation is found. Normally, a mine operator is given time to fix the problem without disrupting production.

The agency said in a statement that audits found that 19 out of 39 mines either failed to report injuries or underreported lost time from reported injuries. Four of the 19 met the criteria for the repeat violator designation, but the Deane mine was the only of the four that wasn’t already on the list.

The three operations already on PPOV status include two Alpha Natural Resources Inc. mines in Boone County, W.Va. — Randolph Mine operated by Inman Energy and Justice No. 1 Mine operated by Independence Coal Co. Inc. — as well as the Maple Eagle No. 1 Mine operated by Maple Coal Co., a Walter Energy Inc. mine located in Fayette County, W.Va.

“These results expose an unsettling amount of underreporting at mines that already have troublesome compliance records,” said Joseph A. Main, assistant secretary of labor for mine safety and health. “These audits are an important tool as MSHA scrutinizes its system of operators selfreporting accidents and injuries. We cannot simply accept information provided by a mine operator that may be avoiding PPOV enforcement action.”

The 39 audits revealed a total of 76 injuries that were unreported or underreported, including 47 unreported injuries at six separate mines formerly controlled by Massey Energy. A total of 247 citations were issued as a result of the audits, including 98 for failing to accurately report injuries.

Two Peabody Energy mines — Willow Lake Portal operated by Big Ridge Inc. in Saline County, Ill., and Air Quality No. 1 Mine operated by Peabody Midwest Mining LLC in Knox County, Ind. — have yet to comply with MSHA’s audit.

Pursuant to Part 50 of the Code of Federal Regulations, mine operators are required to file reports pertaining to accidents, occupational injuries and occupational illnesses, as well as employment and coal production data. In turn, MSHA is authorized to inspect any information the agency thinks may be relevant and necessary to determine compliance with reporting requirements, including medical, employment and other company records.

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