MSHA cracked down Thursday on Murray Energy Corp., fining the company $420,300 for "flagrantly" violating safety laws at its Tower mine in Carbon County, Utah, according to theSalt Lake Tribune.

MSHA based the fines on citations issued Oct. 26, 2006, and June 20, 2007, that accused a Murray Energy subsidiary, Andalex Resources Inc., of repeatedly violating the same safety standard — one designed to prevent mine fires and explosions. The citations were assessed as "flagrant violations" under the Mine Improvement and New Emergency Response (MINER) Act.

The citations allege the company allowed several problems to persist that could have fueled potentially deadly accidents.

Inspectors repeatedly found excessive accumulations of hydraulic oil, fine coal particles covering electric equipment and excessive amounts of potentially explosive coal dust building up on conveyor belts, MSHA said.

The coal dust standard is especially pertinent at Tower, which is known as a "gassy mine" because the coal seams it excavates contain elevated levels of explosive methane gas. Volatile liquid hydrocarbons, which are like diesel fuel, also are found in Tower's coal seam, the Salt Lake Tribunereported.