Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Spurred by stories, feds finally fine coal company

When The Courier-Journal of Louisville reported this month that no fines had been levied against a southeastern Kentucky coal company in connection with a fatal accident more than two years before, that got federal officials looking at their own fine system. That led to a story in the Sunday Gazette-Mail of Charleston, W. Va., reporting that the feds had failed to levy fines in about 4,000 cases over the last six years.

Today, R.G. Dunlop of The Courier-Journal closes the circle on his reporting with a story saying that the feds have fined the coal company he first wrote about $60,000 and are "trying to determine how many other safety violations nationwide have gone unpunished." He writes that a spokesman for the Mine Safety and Health Administration told him "the agency believes less than 1 percent of all citations have not been assessed financial penalties since records were computerized in 1995."

The agency blamed an "administrative error" by its Barbourville, Ky., office, which had failed to send information to MSHA headquarters, and said it "has taken new steps immediately to ensure that this oversight will not be repeated." However, Dunlop notes, spokesman Matthew Faraci "declined to describe those steps or to say why the agency previously had no such oversight in place." MSHA is part of the Department of Labor.

The case involves H & D Mining Inc. of Harlan, Ky. Its employee, miner David "Bud" Morris, "bled to death Dec. 30, 2005, after he was hit from behind by a mine vehicle loaded with coal," Dunlop writes. (Read more)

1 comment:

Loretta said...

Historically, MSHA's "new steps" to ensure that an oversight will not be repeated are generally limited to firing the whistleblower.