Massey reportable accident fine reinstated

A FINE first issued then lowered to a Massey Energy subsidiary for not reporting an accident within the required 15-minute timeframe has been reinstated by a West Virginia judge.

Donna Schmidt

According to the Associated Press, the initial fine assessed to Massey's Marfork River Fork Powellton No. 1 mine as a result of a March 20, 2007 accident was $US100,000.

The state Coal Mine Safety Board of Appeals subsequently reduced that amount to $10,000.

However, the West Virginia Office of Miners' Health, Safety and Training then appealed the reduction on the basis that it felt the CMSBA did not have the authority to reduce the fine, the news service said.

Late last week, a circuit court judge for Kanawha County reinstated the amount.

A preliminary report by the US Mine Safety and Health Administration said crews at the Powellton No. 1 operation cut into an abandoned section without drilling test holes or conducting a pre-shift review. The mine was closed and abandoned less than a month after the accident.

Massey spokesperson Jeff Gillenwater told the AP that the operator was looking at its options and felt the board's decision was appropriate.

WVOMHST spokesperson Jama Jarrett also told the news service that the state agency has issued nine other fines to the operator since December 2006 for the same issue; eight of them have been paid or are being paid, and one was dismissed.

MSHA cited the mine for late reporting but no associated fine has been assessed to date.

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