MetroNews staff photo

SUMERCO, W. Va.– A Lincoln County mine was one of nine coal mines in West Virginia that were issued multiple citations and orders after special impact inspections were conducted last month.

The U.S. Department of Labor’s Mine Safety and Health Administration conducted an inspection April 17 at Fork Creek No. 1 Mine, Coal River Mining, LLC in Lincoln County and issued four closure orders and 10 citations.

The mine was cited for inadequate examination of one of the conveyer belts where hazardous conditions existed. Inspectors found that top-structure rollers were not immediately removed or repaired on the belt during the examination.

Inspectors also found 31 locations where belt strings (cords) intertwined with the belt roller and hanger which has the potential of creating a fire and smoke inhalation hazard.

In addition, the inspection uncovered the failure of mine operators to follow the MSHA-approved methane/dust control plan for the roof bolter. By not doing so, miners were exposed to respiratory hazards that increase their risk of developing black lung, silicosis and other respiratory diseases.

Power cables on a shuttle car operating in a wet area of the mine were also found to be not properly maintained and posed an electrocution hazard.

Last months inspection was not the first impact inspection conducted at the Lincoln County mine this year. An inspection in February resulted in the issuing of 16 ventilation violations, 13 of which were closure orders.

In a news release Thursday, Joseph A. Main, assistant secretary of labor for mine safety and health, stated that  Fork Creek No. 1 Mine is just an example of a mine that is still not getting it.

The violations that were issued show the troublesome behavior that takes place at some mines when MSHA inspectors are not expected to show up,” said Main.

Ever since the April 2010 explosion at the Upper Big Branch Mine, the MSHA has been conducting monthly inspections of certain mines that merit increased agency attention and enforcement due to their poor compliance history or particular compliance concerns.

In total last month, federal inspectors conducted special impact inspections at nine coal mines and two metal/nonmetal mines in West Virginia resulting in 106 citations being issued along with 13 orders and one safeguard.

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  • Brian

    So how long does a mine have to make corrections? And, when will MSHA conduct a follow up inspection? It seems as though MSHA inspections are not taken seriously- are they just for show, in case there is an accident the feds can say they did their part?