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News Release

MSHA announces results of September impact inspections

ARLINGTON, Va. — The U.S. Department of Labor's Mine Safety and Health Administration today announced that federal inspectors issued 130 citations and 13 orders during special impact inspections conducted at nine coal mines and one metal/nonmetal mine last month.

The monthly inspections, which began in force in April 2010 following the explosion at the Upper Big Branch Mine, involve mines that merit increased agency attention and enforcement due to their poor compliance history or particular compliance concerns. These matters include: high numbers of violations or closure orders; frequent hazard complaints or hotline calls; plan compliance issues; inadequate workplace examinations; a high number of accidents, injuries or illnesses; fatalities; adverse conditions, such as increased methane liberation, faulty roof conditions, inadequate ventilation and accumulations of respirable dust.

On Sept. 17, an impact inspection was conducted during the evening shift at Red River Coal Co.'s No. 1 Prep Plant in Wise County, Va. The mine phone and radio communications systems were monitored to prevent the possibility of advance notification to mine personnel. MSHA personnel inspected the preparation plant and loadout facility and issued 25 104(a) citations and 13 104(d)(2) orders. This is the first impact inspection of this mine.

Inspectors cited the operator for failure to conduct adequate on-shift examinations and to record, report and correct hazardous conditions. Inadequate examinations allowed existing hazards to continue, thereby exposing miners to potentially serious accidents. MSHA inspectors cited numerous hazardous conditions that should have been identified, recorded and corrected. The violations pointed to management's inattention to safety precautions and lack of maintenance at the preparation plant and loadout facility.

The area within 25 feet of a utility pole and the area surrounding a 200-gallon bulk diesel storage tank in the raw coal dump area were not kept free of combustible materials, posing a fire risk. Fire extinguishers in the raw coal dump were not examined within the last six months. Guarding on a conveyor was not secured and exposed personnel to moving machine parts that could result in serious bodily injury, amputations or death.

Inspectors found a metal walkway with holes through which a miner could fall into coal stockpile below. The escapeway for the clean coal tunnel was not maintained. A 72-inch section of the escapeway bottom and a 43-inch section on the escapeway floor were rusted through with sharp edges. These conditions created slips, trips and falls hazards. Refuse materials and washed coal were allowed to accumulate up to 3 inches deep and 14 feet wide along the entire width of the walkway behind the transfer belt.

The risk of fire and coal dust explosions caused great concern at the loadout facility. Inspectors found thick coatings of coal dust accumulated all around the inside of the loadout tunnel escapeway and the ventilation pipe connecting the escapeway and the loadout tunnel. The top clean coal loadout reclaim tunnel had coal accumulations up to 3 inches deep underneath and along the backside of the belt and 1 inch deep around the tail drive roller guards and on the belt structure.

Since April 2010, MSHA has conducted 666 impact inspections and issued 11,133 citations, 1,031 orders and 46 safeguards.

Editor's Note: MSHA's Monthly Impact Inspection List for September 2013 has been attached to this email.

Release Date
October 31, 2013
Release Number