MSHA seeks late fines from closed mines

THE US Mine Safety and Health Administration has filed suit against three Knott County, Kentucky coal operations for more than $US665,000 in delinquent civil penalties.

Donna Schmidt

The agency announced it had filed a complaint in the US District Court for the Eastern District of Kentucky over fines totalling $639,034.98 for violations recorded at Double A Mining’s No. 4 mine and $25,749.94 in fines from B King Coal Inc.’s No. 1 and No. 2 operations.

In addition to the recovery of penalties from the mining companies, MSHA is seeking to hold the individual defendants liable. The group includes Larry King, Barry King, Alice Hall and Kermit Hall.

“There is no excuse for mine operators to deliberately flout their obligations to pay civil penalties for safety and health violations,” MSHA assistant secretary for coal mine safety and health Joseph Main said.

“MSHA and the Department of Labor will not hesitate to hold scofflaw operators accountable.”

The penalties stem from 478 citations recorded at Double A’s No. 4 starting in August 2005 and about 145 citations for violations at B King Coal’s No. 1 and No. 2 operations between August 2004 and December 2006.

None of the penalties were contested by the operator, MSHA confirmed. When not appealed, violations become final orders and require payment within 30 days.

The agency issued a withdrawal order to the Double A mine in March 2008 for failure to settle its penalties, and since that time the mine has closed. It was the first time MSHA had issued such an order to a mine for delinquent fines.

B King Coal’s mines have since been abandoned.