It was reported that the West Virginia coal mine where a collapse last month killed two workers had “chronic compliance issues” and received numerous citations from inspectors last year. The Patriot Coal Corp’s Brody Mine No. 1 collapsed about 8:30 p.m. on May 12, trapping two miners, the federal Mine Safety and Health Administration said in a statement. The miners, both from West Virginia, were identified as Eric Legg and Gary Hensley. These men were in their 40s.
The St. Louis-based company says it has been cooperating with state and federal regulators investigating the accident. The incident took place as workers were carrying out retreat mining, which involves mining coal and leaving pillars behind to support the mine roof. When the mining is completed, the pillars are collapsed and removed.
Federal authorities said there was a pattern of difficulties at the mine. Last October, the Patriot Coal Corp’s Brody Mine was placed on “pattern of violations” status, a scheme designed to bring “chronic violators” of federal mining standards into line, the U.S. Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) said in a statement. In 2013, MSHA issued 514 citations, orders and safeguards against it. Asked for a response, a Patriot spokeswoman pointed to the company’s annual report, which notes that many of the Brody violations preceded Patriot’s acquisition of the mine and that the site’s performance had improved.
Mine Safety data for the Brody mine shows that the rate of days lost because of accidents there has been above the national average since 2006. The two deaths raised the number of U.S. coal mining fatalities this year to five, and there were 20 in 2013, according to Mine Safety data. West Virginia is one of the biggest U.S. producers of coal and leads states in coal-mining deaths, Mine Safety numbers show. Before last month’s accident, the state recorded 124 deaths since 2003, about 39 percent of the U.S. total.
Source: Claims Journal
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