Thursday, July 19, 2007

Coal miner's video of leaking seals leads to citation for company, which denies it's related

At last week's U.S. Mine Safety and Health Administration hearing on proposed new regulations for seals in coal mines, miner Charles Scott Howard played a video that showed seals cracked and leaking water in Cumberland River Coal Co.'s Band Mill No. 2 Mine in Letcher County, Kentucky.

This week, MSHA cited the subsidiary of Arch Coal Inc. for failing to conduct a pre-shift examination of the seals. "MSHA spokeswoman Amy Louviere said Tuesday that inspectors visited the Band Mill mine last Thursday and Friday to check the seals," reported Jim Warren of the Lexington Herald-Leader. "Mine seals, which shut off abandoned portions of coal mines from areas where miners are working, are supposed to be checked before each work shift begins." (Read more)

Today, Arch Coal said the citation was not issued for "unsafe conditions," such as the water leaks. Kim Link, a company spokeswoman, said it was "MSHA’s interpretation of the regulation that required a pre-shift exam daily, rather the weekly exam that was currently in place." She said five daily inspections, rather than the three required by law, were made when the seals were leaking in April and May, and the mine recorded more than 178,000 employee-hours of operations last year with no accidents or injuries. (Read more)

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