Federal Officials Fine Ky. Mine Operator for Safety Violations

May 15, 2007

A southeastern Kentucky coal mine operator was fined $761,000 by federal regulators for safety violations found during a recent inspection.

Stillhouse Mining LLC, an operator in Harlan County, was fined for four “flagrant violations” at its Mine No. 1 near Cumberland, federal mine-safety officials said May 11.

“It was highly likely that a miner would have been seriously injured if these conditions were allowed to persist,” Richard E. Stickler, assistant secretary of labor for mine safety and health, said in a news release.

A flagrant violation is defined as a “reckless or repeated failure to make reasonable efforts to eliminate a known violation” of a safety and health standard, and the failure to do so caused or could have been expected to cause death or serious injury.

A civil penalty of up to $220,000 may be assessed for each flagrant violation.

Stillhouse Mining was fined $212,700 each for two citations – failure to comply with main mine fan stoppage requirements and failure to comply with requirements for intentional changes in the ventilation system. It was fined $177,600 for failure to comply with the approved roof control plan, and $158,000 for failure to perform a pre-shift examination of the workplace.

A mine foreman reached at the operator’s office May 11 declined to comment on the fines.

In 2005, a miner was killed in an underground roof collapse at the Stillhouse Mine No. 1. The miner’s body was recovered four days after the rock fall that trapped him under a rock.

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