W.Va. cites 45 violations after 2 deaths at mine

Published on NewsOK Modified: February 26, 2013 at 2:35 pm •  Published: February 26, 2013
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The records obtained by The Associated Press show the West Virginia Office of Miners' Health, Safety and Training has also issued several violations for impaired visibility on scoops since the accident, although officials couldn't immediately say whether any of the scoops listed in the documents was the one that crushed Myles.

In several cases, however, workers had piled bags of pulverized limestone, buckets of bits and other supplies atop scoops. That could impair an operator's line of sight.

An inspector noted the practice of hauling supplies on scoops was the focus of a safety meeting the day before Myles died. Yet he found the same violations Feb. 20, while the mine was under a control order limiting it to basic maintenance and inspection functions.

Other violations written since the fatalities include: inadequate ventilation; insufficient rock-dusting to prevent explosions; accumulations of loose coal and explosive coal dust; improperly grounded electrical equipment; and trash holes filled with combustible materials.

Inspectors also noted that there was too little clearance between workers and moving equipment at the bottom of a supply shaft, and a ventilation alarm was not audible on either the mine's communication system or in the dispatcher's office.

The records also show that West Virginia inspectors made Pocahontas Coal aware of other dangers in the mine before the fatalities.

Inspectors issued 31 violations between Jan. 1 and Feb. 5 for safety problems ranging from the accumulation of loose coal and damaged power cables to inadequate record-keeping, and violations of roof-control and ventilation plans.

Inspectors also issued violations for impaired visibility on shuttle cars, among other things.

Spokeswoman Leslie Fitzwater said the company has been notified of all violations but no fines have yet been assessed.

Federal records show the Mine Safety and Health Administration had cited thee Affinity mine for some 65 violations since January, for everything from failure to maintain mine and escapeway maps to allowing combustible materials to accumulate.

In March 2012, MSHA listed the Affinity mine among three that had been caught giving illegal, advance warning that inspectors were onsite the month before. The practice lets miners and managers underground conceal potentially deadly conditions from inspectors.

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