Whitesburg KY

MSHA issues warnings


The federal Mine Safety and Health Administration said it has warned eight mining operations across the country that they may face sanctions as repeat violators of health and safety rules.

The list includes coal operations in West Virginia, Kentucky and Alabama as well as a quarry in California and an iron ore mine in Michigan.

“The purpose of these letters is to put mine operators on notice about the repercussions they face if they repeatedly disregard mine safety and health regulations,” MSHA director Richard Stickler said. “The ultimate goal is to restore effective safe and healthy conditions at these mines.”

MSHA said it concluded each of the operations has a pattern of safety and health violations based on the last eight quarters. The agency did not specify what the violations were.

The notification is the first step toward what could be temporary shutdowns of the operations. Each has 90 days to significantly reduce the rate of violations while operating under what MSHA said will be close monitoring. If the rate improves enough, MSHA said it won’t issue a notice of a pattern of violations.

But if the operations fail to improve enough, MSHA said it can shut them down until problems are eliminated.

Two of the West Virginia operations are controlled by Richmond, Va.-based Massey Energy Co. MSHA identified them as the Chess Processing plant and the Black King I North Portal underground mine in Boone County.

MSHA also notified Peachtree Ridge Mining’s Eagle No. 1 mine in Raleigh County. A man who answered at Peachtree declined to comment.

MSHA identified the Kentucky operations as James River Coal Co.’s No. 77 mine in Perry County and Left Fork Mining’s Straight Creek No. 1 in Bell County.

MSHA also sent notices to the Oak Grove Mine in Jefferson County, Ala.; and two non-coal operations: Oro Grande Quarry in San Bernadino, Calif., and Tilden Mining’s iron ore mine in Marquette, Mich.

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