U.S. to Probe 2005 W. Va. Mine Death

April 24, 2007

The federal Mine Safety and Health Administration has decided to investigate a fatal 2005 West Virginia coal truck accident after all.

MSHA and the state Office of Miners’ Health, Safety and Training did not investigate the Nov. 8, 2005 death of driver Chad Cook because it occurred on a road and not on mine property. As a result, the State Police conducted an investigation.

MSHA, however, has changed its mind after deciding the road was covered by a state mine permit, Administrator for Coal Mine Health and Safety Kevin Stricklin said. “There are a lot of questions,” he said.

Cook was hauling a load of coal from Mettiki Coal’s prep plant in Maryland when his truck hit a guardrail along the Grant-Tucker county line.

Meanwhile, Miners’ Health, Safety and Training won’t investigate until Mettiki officials meet with representatives of the governor, said Carte Goodwin, Gov. Joe Manchin’s general counsel.

“Representatives of the company called and wanted to tell their side of the story and obviously we’re always willing to let them do that,” Goodwin said.

MSHA’s criteria for deciding whether it investigates fatal accidents has been criticized by the United Mine Workers and others. Critics claim the agency has kept the number of fatalities artificially low by not counting loggers at surface mines, for instance.

MSHA director Richard Stickler issued a new policy on the subject in February after reviewing reports on deaths that had not been counted previously.

“I did look at them, and I had questions in my own mind,” Stickler said. “But I don’t want to take time to go back and critique everything that’s happened here for how many years you want to go back. I want to focus on the future.”


Information from: The Charleston Gazette,

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