West Virginia Mine Operator Massey Fined for Minor Violations

June 24, 2010

Massey Energy Co. has been fined more than $6,000 for mostly minor safety violations found during an investigation of the nation’s deadliest coal mining disaster in 40 years, according to the federal Mine Safety and Health Administration.

The fines are for seven violations cited since the April 5 explosion at Richmond, Va.-based Massey’s Upper Big Branch mine about 46 miles south of Charleston, according to MSHA. The blast killed 29 men and is the subject of ongoing civil and criminal investigations.

MSHA records list 44 citations for violations found at the mine since the explosion. The citations were issued during the nearly two months investigators were unable to go underground because of unsafe carbon monoxide and methane gas readings.

Inspection teams have since re-entered the mine and spent much of June making sure conditions are safe enough for investigators to work underground.

Most of the citations are minor and carry smaller fines. MSHA has, however, assessed penalties on two serious violations. Both involve tripping hazards found above ground at Upper Big Branch. Massey faces a fine of $3,689 for one and $1,111 for the other.

A Massey spokesman said the company plans to review the fines when they’re received and determine whether to pay them or appeal.

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