CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) - The federal Mine Safety and Health
Administration has warned 20 companies across the country that they
may face sanctions as repeat violators of health and safety rules.
The list includes coal operations in West Virginia, Virginia,
Kentucky and Tennessee, along with a cement plant in Kentucky. Each
received a letter giving them 90 days to make significant
improvements or face a temporary shutdown.
A mine in Indiana was sent a letter, but it is in the process of
being sealed, MSHA spokesman Matthew Faraci said.
The companies are the second group targeted this year by MSHA
for repeated violations. In June, the agency sent similar warnings
to eight operators.
Those warnings had the desired effect, MSHA director Richard
Stickler said in a statement Monday. Six of the eight cut their
significant and substantial violation rates an average of 50
percent, he said.
"Hopefully, they will serve as an example to the other 20
One of the eight locations warned in June closed a month later,
while the final operation was given more time because of a recent
sale, MSHA said.
The new group includes five mines controlled by Richmond,
Va.-based Massey Energy Co., the nation's fourth-largest coal
producer by revenue. Among them is Massey's Twilight surface mine
in Boone County, which MSHA said is 582 percent over the national
rate of serious violations.
Two Massey operations appeared on the earlier list as well. One
cut its violation rate 32 percent, while the other reduced
violations 47 percent, MSHA said.
Massey said it will review documents on which MSHA is basing the
potential pattern of violations, discuss the matter with the agency
and take all necessary steps to ensure the operations meet the
Other notable operators that received the latest warnings
include Richmond, Va.-based James River Coal Co., which had two
facilities on the list, and Pittsburgh-based Consol Energy Inc. and
Abingdon, Va.-based Alpha Natural Resources, which had one apiece.
Alpha spokesman Ted Pile said it has challenged some of the
enforcement actions at the Norton, Va., mine on the list and the
company hopes to show the mine is not a proper candidate for
stricter enforcement. The mine has not had a lost-time accident
this year, Pile said.
Representatives of Consol and James River did not immediately
return calls seeking comment Monday.
(Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)