Miner who reported safety violations facing official complaint

By: Angela Sparkman Email
By: Angela Sparkman Email

HARLAN, Ky. (WYMT) - A Harlan County miner says state investigators would not have known about safety violations in a mine if he had not reported it, but now the state is seeking disciplinary action against him in the same case.

Mackie Bailey says he worked in unsafe conditions inside the Manalapan P-1 mine in Harlan County but the father of four thought he would lose his job if he reported it.

"He's got bills like everybody else and like most coal miners, he lives paycheck to paycheck," said attorney Tony Oppegard.

After a miner died in a roof collapse in June of 2011, Bailey did report the unsafe conditions to state investigators. He told investigators
the roof bolting machine operators on the day shift and the 2nd shift were being forced to install roof bolts although the machine's Automated Temporary Roof Support ("ATRS") did not reach the mine roof.

Several of the Manalapan mine operators have since pleaded guilty to federal safety violation charges.

Now the state is seeking disciplinary action against the supervisors and Bailey.

In a complaint filed, the Office of Mine Safety and Licensing wants Bailey's underground miner certificate probated for one year.

"Apparently they don't have the wisdom to prosecute a miner who is a whistleblower and tells you about a dangerous condition, you're never going to have any miners in the state of Kentucky come forward and notifying you of hazardous conditions," said Oppegard.

Linda Potter with the Department for Natural Resources responded with this statement, "Please be aware that we did not and will not try a legal case in the media. There is much more to this than the story indicates and the inferences by Mr. Oppegard should be read with that in mind. We have never, ever put mining companies above the safety of miners. Again, more about this case will be brought to light as it moves forward through the Mine Safety Review Commission."

A hearing is scheduled for February 14th.

If Bailey's mining certificate is put on probation, he can continue to work but would face more penalties if he had another complaint.


HARLAN, Ky. (WYMT/Lexington Herald Leader) - A miner in Harlan County says he is being punished for being a whistle blower.

The Lexington Herald Leader reports Mackie Bailey provided information about dangerous practices at the Manalapan Mining Company's P-1 mine where a man was crushed to death in June of 2011.

The company and three supervisors pleaded guilty in federal court.

But state authorities say Bailey is a miner who broke the rules.

The Kentucky Office of Mine Safety and Licensing filed a complaint against him for taking part in the dangerous activities he reported to state and federal regulators.

Kentucky regulators are asking the state to put Bailey's underground miner certificate on probation for one year.

Bailey has hired a lawyer and is fighting the complaint.

Bailey's lawyer, Tony Oppegard asked the state in October to drop the complaint against Bailey, but the Office of Mine Safety and Licensing has not responded, Oppegard said.

Bailey has a hearing scheduled before the mine-safety commission in February.

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