UNDATED (AP) - An Associated Press record review finds that new regulations to improve mine safety may be having the opposite effect.
Mining companies have aggressively contested safety violations since the 2006 Sago mine disaster killed 12. The accident pushed officials to levy stiffer fines and add new enforcement to punish the worst offenders.
Instead, companies have challenged the violations, causing a backlog in the Mining Safety and Health Administration. Agency officials say the maneuvers block their ability to punish repeat violators, and worker advocates fear more tragedies.
The AP review finds that the year before Sago, mines contested just 6 percent of the violations they faced. It was up to 27 percent last year.
Massey Energy Co., which owns the Upper Big Branch mine where Monday's explosion occurred is contesting more than a third of all its violations there since 2007.