Documentation filed by MSHA and provided to ILN, in which Rosebud is named as a defendant, reveals the agency did an inspection August 12, 2010, at Mine 78 in Windber, Somerset County, and at the Tracy Lynne mine in Apollo, Armstrong County, on November 4.
In both cases, MSHA inspectors warned mine staff not to announce their presence, but heard such an announcement on both dates. When the alleged announcer at one of the operations was caught, he laughed, the suit said.
Advance notification of an inspection is against federal regulations and can carry a fine penalty as well as the potential for up to six months in prison.
Both mines were on a list of 111 targeted by MSHA last year in a nationwide inspection blitz. The listed mines all had a history of safety violations following the April explosion at Massey’s Upper Big Branch operation in West Virginia.
The Associated Press quoted Rosebud president Jim Baker earlier this week as saying that he was not aware of the allegations against the company which are contained in the December 30 court filing. An ILN request for comment was not immediately returned.
Federal officials filed suit last year against Manalapan Mining and Left Fork Mining in Kentucky to prohibit them from interfering with MSHA duties under the Mine Act of 1977 after both informed their respective staff during April 2010 inspections that MSHA inspectors were onsite.
“In each case, MSHA inspectors monitoring phone lines heard the advance notice,” the agency said.
“The Mine Act is clear that ‘no advance notice of an inspection shall be provided to any person’.”