Some News on Crandall Canyon Mine

coalminer.jpgIt seems to me Bob Murray should be up and testifying SOME time SOON about his role, as well as that of Murray Energy, in the mining disaster at Crandall Canyon last August.

There is, however, this bit of news on a $400K plus fine from MSHA for the flagrant violation of safety precautions. There’s a four-page PDF from MSHA giving the citation information. (The Salt Lake Tribune has an article also.)

The U.S. Department of Labor’s Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) has assessed $420,300 in fines against Andalex Resources Inc. for violations relating to potential fire and explosion hazards at the Aberdeen Mine in Price, Utah. Two citations issued Oct. 26, 2006, and June 20, 2007, were assessed as “flagrant violations” under the Mine Improvement and New Emergency Response (MINER) Act based on the operator’s repeated violation of the same safety standard. Robert E. Murray controls Andalex Resources Inc., which operates the mine.

October of 2006, 10 months prior to the collapse at Crandall Canyon; June 2007 – some six weeks prior to the collapse.

These violations were cited during two routine regular safety and health inspections. A flagrant violation is defined as “a reckless or repeated failure to make reasonable efforts to eliminate a known violation of a mandatory safety and health standard that substantially and proximately caused, or reasonably could have been expected to cause, death or serious bodily injury. Under the MINER Act, a civil penalty of up to $220,000 may be assessed for each flagrant violation. The two citations that were determined to be flagrant violations were assessed at $220,000 and $200,300.

It goes on further to cite this:

“The violation resulted from the operator’s high degree of negligence.”

Really? How is it ole’ Miner Bob has managed to avoid testifying?


In Kentucky, a miner who videotaped safety problems (stark violations) was disciplined by his employer. The miner is suing his employer.

When Kentucky coal miner, Charles Scott Howard, played an eye-catching videotape last year that showed barriers so cracked that water gushed through them, he prompted a federal investigation that led to citations against his employer.


Barriers constructed to seal off abandoned sections of underground coal mines are supposed to be impenetrable so that explosive methane gas can’t seep into working areas.

A veteran miner, Howard played the video during a U.S. Mine Safety and Health Administration public hearing in Lexington last July. After the hearing, federal inspectors went to the mine and issued citations. After the citations, Howard said the company sanctioned him for “taking a non-permissible video camera underground.”

Lexington attorney Tony Oppegard, representing Howard, said the company shouldn’t be allowed to punish a miner for documenting unsafe conditions …….. is asking that the reprimand be removed from Howard’s personnel file and that Cumberland River Coal managers be ordered to undergo training about the rights of miners to document unsafe working conditions.

As cited in the Lexington Herald-Leader:

Interest in faulty underground mine seals arose after 12 men died in the Sago Mine explosion in West Virginia in January 2006, followed by the deaths of five miners in May of that year during an explosion at the Kentucky Darby Mine. Both explosions were caused by methane in abandoned, sealed sections of the mines.

The disasters led to tougher standards involving the design and construction of seals.

See that connection for Mr. Howard – now?

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