MSHA, engineering firm reach settlement in deadly 2007 Utah mine collapse
Poor design lead to deaths of six miners, three rescue workers
The U.S. Department of Labor's Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) announced today that it submitted a settlement between itself and Agapito Associates Inc. in the August 2007 Crandall Canyon Mine disaster to the Federal Mine Safety and Health Review Commission. Under the settlement agreement, the mining engineering consulting firm accepted responsibility and agreed to pay $100,000 for a high negligence violation for its role in the mine collapse that killed six miners and three rescue workers at Genwal Resources Inc.'s underground coal mine in Emery County, Utah.
According to MSHA's investigation, the miners were killed when roof-supporting coal pillars collapsed in a catastrophic outburst that violently ejected coal over a half-mile area in the underground mine tunnels. Ten days later, two mine employees and an MSHA inspector died in another coal outburst that occurred during rescue efforts.
The investigation also determined that the flawed engineering analysis by Agapito resulted in an inadequate mine design, with unsafe pillar dimensions, which contributed to the accident. Genwal and its parent company, UtahAmerican Energy Inc. submitted their mining plan to MSHA based on Agapito's analysis.
"With this settlement, Agapito takes responsibility for its role in the tragic mine collapse at Crandall Canyon," said Joseph A. Main, assistant secretary of labor for mine safety and health. "Since this tragedy occurred, the agency has made a number of enforcement, administrative and regulatory reforms to improve the health and safety of the nation's miners, particularly in the area of roof control safety."
Settlement would end legal action
If approved by the administrative law judge, the settlement will mark the end of legal proceedings brought by the federal government arising from the 2007 mine disaster. In September 2012, Genwal Resources and Andalex Resources Inc., also owned by UtahAmerican Energy, agreed to pay nearly $950,000 in civil penalties for Crandall Canyon violations. In addition, Genwal Resources pled guilty in federal court to two criminal misdemeanors for its willful violation of mandatory health and safety standards at the mine and agreed to pay a $500,000 fine.