Repeat offenders named and under review

COAL operations put on watch by the US Mine Safety and Health Administration for a potential pattern of violations average 250% above the national average for serious violations.
Repeat offenders named and under review Repeat offenders named and under review Repeat offenders named and under review Repeat offenders named and under review Repeat offenders named and under review


Donna Schmidt

In documentation provided to International Longwall News by MSHA, all of the 20 mines listed as repeat offenders, all bar one being coal operations, are now subject to a 90-day reduction review.

Of that group, 17 are underground mines, one is a surface operation and one is a preparation facility.

The 19 coal-related complexes also have an average 15.16 significant and substantial (S&S) violations issued per 100 inspector hours for their review periods, the report reflected.

The group is as follows, paired with a corresponding percentage rate above national average for serious violations (the mean rate currently stands at 6.19):

Massey Energy's Progress Coal (surface) - 582%

Commonwealth Mining (facility) - 393%

Regent Allied Carbon Energy - 298%

Manalapan Mining - 399%

S&C Mining - 331%

James River Shamrock Coal - 285%

James River Bledsoe Coal - 297%

Argus Energy WV - 180%

Alpha Natural Resources Black Dog Coal - 195%

Hanson Rivers Edge Mining - 174%

Massey Energy Marfork Coal - 208%

Massey Energy Independence Coal - 191%

Bardo Mining - 215%

Bronco Energy White River Coal - 176%

National Coal Corporation - 165%

Alliance Resource Partners Excel Mining - 166%

Double Bonus Coal - 163%

Massey Energy Performance Coal - 187%

Consol Energy McElroy Coal - 158%

Each received a letter indicating their 90-day review allowing opportunity to make improvements or face a temporary shutdown order. One Indiana mine was notified of its status but is currently in the process of being sealed, MSHA confirmed for the Associated Press.

The previous group notified of their safety shortfalls in June made an average 50% improvement in their S&S violations, it added.

Operators respond

A request for comment by ILN from Consol Energy and Alliance Resource Partners was not returned by press time, but Massey Energy spokesman Jeff Gillenwater cited the progress made by its two operations that made the list earlier this year (Massey has five mines on the new list).

"In June, Massey Energy received notice ... that a potential pattern of violations may exist at its Black King Mine and Chess Processing Preparation Plant," he said.

"Both Black King Mine and Chess Processing Preparation Plant have met or exceeded the necessary criteria for reducing violations rates and were removed from the potential pattern of violations list."

He noted that, as it did before, the company will review the documentation on which the agency made its decision and communicate with each mine's district manager in order to take the necessary corrective action.

Gillenwater also said that Massey's safety record overall is consistently above the US national average; its non-fatal days lost (NFDL) incidence rate in 2006 was 2.77 compared to an average US result of 3.31.

"Massey's commendable safety record has continued to improve in 2007, with a NFDL rate of 2.05 based on statistics available to date," he said.

"NFDL rates are the benchmark used by the coal industry to measure safety.

"Massey will take all necessary steps to ensure that these operations notified of the potential pattern of violations meet Massey Energy's standards."

Alpha Natural Resources did not respond to ILN's request for comment, but did tell the AP that its listed mine in Virginia has not had a lost-time accident this year, and said it has challenged enforcement procedures there in hopes it can show the operation is not in need of stricter enforcement.