Feds going after New England mining companies for unpaid fines

Interest, surcharges also being sought

On behalf of its Mine Safety and Health Administration, the U.S. Department of Labor has filed complaints in U.S. district courts against mining companies in Connecticut, Massachusetts and New Hampshire to collect $267,724 in unpaid civil penalties resulting from federal mine safety violations. The complaints also seek injunctions and cash performance bonds from each mine operator to guarantee that future penalties will be paid.

"Over a period of several years, these employers either reneged on promises to pay these penalties or they failed to contest them and then chose to ignore them. Mine operators cannot be permitted to violate mine safety laws and simply refuse to pay the penalties assessed for those violations," said Michael Felsen, the department's regional solicitor of labor for New England. "The Department of Labor will use all the tools available, including litigation in federal court, to pursue these scofflaws."

The first complaint, filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Connecticut against American Industries Inc. in Jewett City, Conn., seeks to collect unpaid civil penalties of $24,628 assessed against the construction sand and gravel operation, plus interest.

The second complaint, filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts against R.J. Cincotta Co. Inc. in Waltham, Mass., seeks $144,847 in unpaid civil penalties assessed against the crushed stone operation, plus interest.

The third complaint, filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of New Hampshire against Raymond Sand and Gravel in Raymond, N.H., seeks $98,249 in unpaid civil penalties assessed against the sand and gravel operation, plus interest.

The suits were filed by the Labor Department's Regional Office of the Solicitor in Boston.

Miners can report a hazardous condition or imminent danger that could cause a serious accident, injury, illness or fatality by calling 800-746-1553. Detailed information on mine safety is available at www.msha.gov.

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