The U.S. Department of Labor’s Mine Safety and Health Administration says federal inspectors issued 199 citations and 19 orders during special impact inspections conducted at 10 coal mines and six metal and nonmetal mines in November.
The monthly inspections, which began in force in April 2010, involve mines that merit increased agency attention and enforcement due to their poor compliance history or particular compliance concerns.
On Nov. 6, MSHA conducted an impact inspection at the Regent Allied Carbon Energy, Inc.’s No. 2 Mine, in Wise County, Virginia, during the day shift. Enforcement personnel immediately secured the mine’s communication systems to prevent advance notice of the inspection. The team inspected two mechanized mining units (MMUs), belt lines and surface equipment and installations and issued 28 citations and seven orders.
Inspectors observed accumulations of combustible materials in the form of coal, coal fines and coal dust on the MMU. These accumulations were obvious and extensive and measured up to 1.5-2 feet in depth and up to a distance of 50 feet between entries. Inspectors issued an unwarrantable failure order for the operator’s failure to conduct an adequate pre-shift examination of the section. The accumulations of combustible materials, along with other accumulations violations found throughout the mine, created potential fire and explosion hazards.
MSHA issued an order shutting down the mine’s belt lines because the mine operator did not comply with its approved ventilation plan. The water supply to the system of water sprays that suppress dust along the belt lines was not on. Approved ventilation plans control methane liberation, protect miners from black lung and prevent the risk of frictional ignitions. The lack of adequate fire and dust suppression exposes miners to respiratory hazards that increase their risk of developing black lung, silicosis and other respiratory diseases, as well as potential fire and explosion hazards.
MSHA issued the mine operator an unwarrantable failure citation for mining without ventilation curtains in place to control dust and ventilate gasses from the mine. The operator also was issued an unwarrantable failure order for failure to conduct an adequate on-shift examination.