After ten impact inspections in the last two years, the D&C Mining Corp. of Ky “still hasn’t gotten the message,” says Joseph A. Main, assistant secretary of labor for mine safety and health.
An inspection conducted last month of the company’s Harlan County mine resulted in the Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) issuing five 104(d)(2) unwarrantable failure orders, one 104(b) withdrawal order and 10 citations, six of which were deemed significant and substantial.
The 104(d)(2) orders were issued for an improperly conducted pre-shift examination, an accumulation of combustible materials, a failure to comply with mine emergency evacuation training and drills, a failure on the part of the section foreman and another miner to wear a self-contained self-rescuer device, and a failure by the section foreman to perform the required daily calibration test of multi-gas detectors.
Among the significant and substantial violations were a failure to comply with the roof control plan, an accumulation of combustible materials, damaged areas in the power cord of a battery charger and misaligned conveyer belts.
The ten MSHA inspections since April 2010 aren’t the only forms of attention D&C has been getting from federal agencies.
MSHA notified it of a potential pattern of violation in 2007 and 2008. Then last March, the Labor Department filed a complaint against the company in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Kentucky, alleging that D&C owes $1.67 million of $2.7 million assessed in civil penalties for 1,244 violations cited between Jan. 24, 2006, and Feb. 8, 2012. After D & C failed to respond to the complaint, the department filed a motion for entry of judgment by default on July 10 along with a proposed judgment.
The motion requests payment of the principal owed, penalties and interest; an order preventing D & C from “violating or failing or refusing to comply with any final orders” by failing to pay already delinquent penalties and future penalties; for D & C to post a bond to ensure the payment of future penalties; and an order that D & C keep all property in which it has an ownership interest on site at the mine and not sell or move the property.
The impact inspection at D&C was one of 15 conducted last month by MSHA, during which federal inspectors issued 255 citations, 13 orders and two safeguards.
The monthly inspections, which began in force in April 2010 following the explosion at the Upper Big Branch Mine, involve mines that merit increased agency attention and enforcement due to their poor compliance history or particular compliance concerns, including high numbers of violations or closure orders; frequent hazard complaints or hotline calls; plan compliance issues; inadequate workplace examinations; a high number of accidents, injuries or illnesses; fatalities; and adverse conditions such as increased methane liberation, faulty roof conditions and inadequate ventilation.