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MSHA Levies $1.85 Million in Fines for Crandall Canyon Mine Disaster

2008-07-24 16:42:00

MSHA Levies $1.85 Million in Fines for Crandall Canyon Mine Disaster

    Failures by mine operator, engineering consultant contributed to mine


    PRICE, Utah, July 24 /EMWNews/ -- The U.S. Department of

Labor's Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) today announced that

it has fined the operator of the Crandall Canyon Mine in Emery County,

Utah, $1,340,000 for violations that directly contributed to the deaths of

six miners last year. Agapito Associates Inc., a mining engineering

consultant, was fined $220,000 for faulty analysis of the mine's design.

MSHA cited the mine operator for 11 additional, noncontributory violations

issued as the result of the investigation. The proposed penalty for these

violations is $296,664, bringing the total proposed penalties against the

mine operator to $1,636,664. Crandall Canyon Mine is operated by Genwal

Resources Inc., whose parent company is Murray Energy Corp.

    The six miners were killed on Aug. 6, 2007, when roof-supporting coal

pillars collapsed in a catastrophic coal outburst that violently ejected

coal over a half-mile area in the underground mine tunnels. Ten days later,

two mine employees and an MSHA inspector died in another coal outburst that

occurred during rescue efforts.

    "MSHA's investigation found that Genwal Resources recklessly failed to

immediately report three previous coal outbursts that had occurred, two in

March 2007 and one just three days before the August 6th accident," said

Richard E. Stickler, acting assistant secretary of labor for MSHA. "These

reporting failures were critical, because they deprived MSHA of the

information it needed to properly assess the operator's mining plans. MSHA

also found that the operator was taking more coal than allowed from the

barrier pillars and the floor. This dangerously weakened the strength of

the roof support."

    MSHA accident investigators have cited Genwal Resources Inc. and

Agapito Associates Inc. for the following violations:

    -- The mine operator did not immediately contact MSHA after coal

outbursts threw coal into the mine openings and disrupted regular mining

activities for more than one hour on three separate occasions prior to the

August 6 outburst.

    The mine operator failed to propose revisions to the roof control plan

when conditions (coal outbursts) clearly indicated that the plan was

inadequate and miners were being exposed to dangerous conditions.

    -- The operator violated the approved roof control plan by removing

coal that was required to support the roof.

    The operator's outside engineering firm failed to recommend safe mining

methods and pillar/barrier dimensions, and the operator failed to maintain

pillar dimensions that would effectively control coal outbursts.

    The complete accident investigation report is available at

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