US marks first 2010 coal death in Montana

JUST days into the new year, the first US coal mining death of 2010 has been recorded at the surface of Signal Peak Energy’s Bull Mountain underground operation in Montana.

Donna Schmidt

According to a preliminary report of the incident from the US Mine Safety and Health Administration, 57-year-old surface shop mechanic Rudolph Orren Lindstrom was working on a Dodge mantrip at the complex near Roundup on January 2 when it fell off a jack and struck him in the head.

“Lindstrom had asked another miner to assist in purging the power-steering hoses while the front end of the mantrip was suspended with jack stands,” the report stated.

“Lindstrom was positioned under the front of the truck … the assistant started the mantrip and his foot slipped off the clutch, causing the mantrip to lurch forward off the stands.”

MSHA spokesperson Amy Louviere noted that the incident was immediately reported to the agency, as required by law, and federal inspectors began an investigation on Monday.

Lindstrom had more than eight years of industry experience and had worked at Bull Mountain just nine weeks.

Federal officials have classified the incident under Powered Haulage.

Montana Department of Labor and Industry representative Ron Umscheid told local station KULR-8 that at least five investigation officials had been reviewing everything at Signal Peak from records to safety equipment. The state expects the review to last about a month, but noted a report could be as much as six months away.

The fatality is Bull Mountain’s second serious incident in two weeks and the first death for the recently reopened mine. On December 23, a miner sustained broken ribs after an air blast threw him into a mine rib.

Louviere noted that the two incidents did not appear to be linked.

Signal Peak, which employs 197 workers with 171 underground, is owned by Ohio firm Boich Group and Ohio-based utility FirstEnergy. The mine was purchased from Bull Mountain Coal in 2008 and commenced production last year.

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