Wednesday, January 05, 2011

MSHA and Massey settle lawsuit over Ky. mine

The Mine Safety and Health Administration has settled a lawsuit with Massey Energy over a mine in Pikeville, Ky., that court documents say is a mine so dangerous it requires court supervision. Howard Berkes of National Public Radio reports that Massey's Freedom Mine #1 was singled out for an unprecedented federal court injunction owing to a persistent "pattern of violations" of mine safety law, which "constitutes a continuing hazard to the health or safety of miners."

Massey Energy denies "the existence of any pattern of violations," according to Berkes, but agrees that a U.S. District Court has jurisdiction over Freedom and can apply sanctions. "We felt the best course of action was to cooperate with MSHA and jointly develop a plan for our coal miners to safely close the Freedom Energy mine," Shane Harvey, Massey's vice president and general counsel, told Berkes.

Massey announced shortly after MSHA filed suit against the company that the Freedom mine would be closed. The courts determined that MSHA could proceed with the case in an effort to protect the remaining 60 workers who were closing down the mine. The settlement requires that if new safety violations force closure of all or part of the mine the company must continue to pay workers, or find them other jobs within 60 miles, until the mine is considered safe, reports Berkes. (Read more)

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