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PostPosted: Sat Apr 17, 2010 2:13 pm 
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Im on the fence on this one. But do agree with some points. Yes the public media court has found them guilty. Yes or elected officials will use this disadter as a platform. Sad when the poltical hacks will use a tragedy to gain popularity. Yes at face value the fines seem hefty. But Id like to see a break down maybe by accidents per ton, or per hours worked to put that mine into perspective ? Or something to that effect so a comparison can be made. I stated before mining is inherently dangerous, and sometimes fatal. If the disaster happened due to circumstances, thats one thing. But if it was done by pure neglence thats another matter. Look at KNOX everyone pointed the fingers at the coal company. But everyone including the miners knew they were way past the stop line. It was everybodys fault. Im not minimizing the sadness of this situation. But the media is portraying our mines to be like China's !!! All this is going to cause is a bunch of money wasting talks. And probably a bunch of new and expensive laws. That isnt going to help in the long run. Just a chance for the polticians to capitalize on a sad situation.


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PostPosted: Sat Apr 17, 2010 4:56 pm 
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Great points Tony :!:

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PostPosted: Sat Apr 17, 2010 5:35 pm 
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Tony,

I worked on a variety of figures like you described. I will post them the first of the week as they're on another computer.

The bottom line I couldn't see anything that stood out, looking at this mine, the national Bitty UG average and a local bitty.

The only chart I have seen was one on the MSHA page that show a huge spike at this mine for 2009 and that was "Violations per 1000 inspection hours" .

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PostPosted: Sat Apr 17, 2010 5:43 pm 
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Thanks. I remember as a kid I was always told at work " if you cant find anything to do, your not looking hard enough". Guess that applies to inspections also. Id like to see the atatics when you get time. To bad we couldnt get the numbers from China. That would really put things in perspective.


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PostPosted: Sat Apr 17, 2010 8:12 pm 
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I will disagree on the relavence of China. Mines need to be as safe as possible. Saying we're ahead of China is like saying we are good 'cause we aren't in last place.

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PostPosted: Mon Apr 19, 2010 8:33 am 
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I know I'm ranting about the media coverage. But the context of increased violations at a mine in the past 2 - 3 years may not acutally relect the mines performance. MSHA has dramaticly increase the number of citations they are writting.

More Numbers from MSHA: ( See the second chart, Coal only)

http://www.msha.gov/MSHAInfo/FactSheets ... Issued.pdf

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PostPosted: Mon Apr 19, 2010 2:54 pm 
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BRISTOL HERALD COURIER
SATURDAY, APRIL 17, 2010

Big problems found at Massey sites since blast
MORE THAN 60 serious violations found at mines in Virginia, West Virginia and Kentucky

BY LAWRENCE MESSINA / THE ASSOCIATED PRESS

CHARLESTON, W.Va. – Federal inspectors have found more than 60 serious safety violations at Massey Energy operations since the explosion that killed 29 miners, adding to fallout from the disaster that includes a wrongful death lawsuit by one of the men’s wid¬ows.

Inspectors visited more than 30 underground Massey coal mines in West Virginia, Kentucky and Virginia after the April 5 blast, according to records from the Mine Safety and Health Administration. The agency has tentatively blamed preventable accumu¬lations of explosive methane gas and coal dust for the worst U.S. coal mining disaster since 1970.

The miner’s widow accuses the company of a history of safety violations that amount to negligence in the first wrong¬ful death lawsuit over the explo¬sion, which she filed Thursday. Investigators were review¬ing records from the site of the blast and waiting for dan¬gerous gases to be ventilated before going underground at the Upper Big Branch mine. It will probably be another week until investigators can safely go in, MSHA Administrator Kevin Stricklin said.

To tally violations at other Massey sites, The Asso¬ciated Press checked inspection records for all of the company’s approx¬imately 70 underground coal mines in the U.S. from April 5 through Thursday. Mines operated by other companies also were inspected during the same period.

Stricklin said the MSHA hasn’t been disproportion¬ately targeting Massey since the blast, nor has it increased the pace of inspections. He did say inspectors have responded to hazard complaints at two Massey mines.

“We’re just going about our regular business,â€

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PostPosted: Mon Apr 19, 2010 2:58 pm 
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Massey mines draw scrutiny

442 citations, orders issued for safety violations in Ky., 2 other states since blast
By Linda J. Johnson and Bill Estep - ljohnson1@herald-leader.com


Inspectors have cited hundreds of safety violations at Massey Energy coal mines in Kentucky since an April 5 explosion at one of the company's mines in West Virginia killed 29 employees, federal records show.
The 279 citations and orders in Kentucky, more than 80 of them alleging significant and substantial violations, were among a total of 442 issued to Massey underground mines in Kentucky, West Virginia and Virginia from April 5 through Thursday.
Of those 442, more than half — 222 — were issued to one Massey property in Kentucky, Freedom Energy Mining Co. in Pike County, according to a Herald-Leader analysis of data from the U.S. Mine Safety and Health Administration.
"That's off the charts. That is an extremely troubled mine," said Tony Oppegard, a Lexington attorney who formerly worked at MSHA and Kentucky's mine-safety agency.
Oppegard said his review of records shows the Freedom Energy mine has received 404 federal citations or orders this year — nearly as many as the 458 in all of last year at the West Virginia mine that blew up.
Most of the citations the last two weeks at Freedom Energy, including some for allowing potentially dangerous build-ups of coal dust, resulted from an inspection that began the same day as the blast at Massey's Upper Big Branch mine.
That was a special inspection prompted by a report alleging hazardous conditions at the Pike County mine, Oppegard said.
That same day, MSHA administrator Kevin Stricklin was on his way to Pike ville to meet with inspectors and Massey officials about safety concerns at the company's operation, according to spokeswoman Amy Louviere.
Stricklin was concerned with ventilation, hazard complaints and mine examinations at all Massey operations, Louviere said.
But after landing in Charleston, W.Va., that afternoon, Stricklin learned of the deadly blast 30 miles south of the city and canceled the Pikeville meeting.
Massey officials did not immediately respond to questions about the planned meeting or to an Associated Press inquiry about citations at company mines since the blast.
In the two weeks before the explosion, federal inspectors cited 73 violations at Massey's Kentucky mines. Of those, 21 were considered significant and substantial. That numbers has since jumped to 87.
Still, Stricklin told the Associated Press that MSHA hasn't been disproportionately targeting Massey since the blast or increased the pace of inspections.
"I didn't give any instructions to go and look at Massey mines," Stricklin said.
MSHA has tentatively blamed preventable accumulations of explosive methane gas and coal dust for the West Virginia explosion, the worst U.S. coal mining disaster since a blast killed 38 miners in December 1970 at Finley Coal Co. in Leslie County.
Inspectors visited more than 30 Massey mines in Kentucky, West Virginia and Virginia since the blast. Some, including Bent Branch Energy in Pike County, one of two Road Fork Development mines in Pike County, and Coalgood Energy in Harlan County, had no violations, MSHA records show.
But Stricklin sharply criticized Massey for violations found in the last 10 days at its other mines.
Those include conveyor belt problems at Massey's Aracoma Alma No. 1 mine in West Virginia, where a belt fire killed two men in 2006, and a build-up of coal dust on three occasions at the company's Solid Energy No. 1 mine in Pike County.
Stricklin called the dust accumulation "pitiful."
"You would think that personnel associated with Massey would be really more careful," he said.
Mines are required to keep methane below explosive levels with ventilation systems, and control coal dust by clearing it away and covering it with non-combustible material.
"There is an adage that a dirty mine is a dangerous mine," Oppegard said.
Massey is also facing its first wrongful death lawsuit in the April 5 blast, filed by by Marlene Griffith, a widow of one of the men killed, in Raleigh County, W.Va. The lawsuit also targets Performance Coal, the Massey subsidiary that operated the underground mine.

The lawsuit argues that Massey's handling of working conditions at the mine, plus its history of safety violations, amounted to aggravated conduct that rises above ordinary negligence.
Griffith and her husband, William Griffith, were planning to celebrate their 33rd wedding anniversary April 30, the lawsuit said.
Mark Moreland, a Charleston lawyer representing Griffith, said William Griffith was concerned about safety in the mine and had avoided serious injury during a rock fall there a week before his death.
Oppegard said if Massey doesn't change its attitude toward safety, its employees will be at risk. The company recently acquired more mines in Kentucky, he noted.
President Barack Obama this week ordered a sweeping review of coal mines with poor safety records and called for stronger mining laws following the Upper Big Branch blast.
Inspectors have cited hundreds of safety violations at Massey Energy coal mines in Kentucky since an April 5 explosion at one of the company's mines in West Virginia killed 29 employees, federal records show.
The 279 citations and orders in Kentucky, more than 80 of them alleging significant and substantial violations, were among a total of 442 issued to Massey underground mines in Kentucky, West Virginia and Virginia from April 5 through Thursday.
Of those 442, more than half — 222 — were issued to one Massey property in Kentucky, Freedom Energy Mining Co. in Pike County, according to a Herald-Leader analysis of data from the U.S. Mine Safety and Health Administration.
"That's off the charts. That is an extremely troubled mine," said Tony Oppegard, a Lexington attorney who formerly worked at MSHA and Kentucky's mine-safety agency.
Oppegard said his review of records shows the Freedom Energy mine has received 404 federal citations or orders this year — nearly as many as the 458 in all of last year at the West Virginia mine that blew up.
Most of the citations the last two weeks at Freedom Energy, including some for allowing potentially dangerous build-ups of coal dust, resulted from an inspection that began the same day as the blast at Massey's Upper Big Branch mine.
That was a special inspection prompted by a report alleging hazardous conditions at the Pike County mine, Oppegard said.
That same day, MSHA administrator Kevin Stricklin was on his way to Pike ville to meet with inspectors and Massey officials about safety concerns at the company's operation, according to spokeswoman Amy Louviere.
Stricklin was concerned with ventilation, hazard complaints and mine examinations at all Massey operations, Louviere said.
But after landing in Charleston, W.Va., that afternoon, Stricklin learned of the deadly blast 30 miles south of the city and canceled the Pikeville meeting.
Massey officials did not immediately respond to questions about the planned meeting or to an Associated Press inquiry about citations at company mines since the blast.
In the two weeks before the explosion, federal inspectors cited 73 violations at Massey's Kentucky mines. Of those, 21 were considered significant and substantial. That numbers has since jumped to 87.
Still, Stricklin told the Associated Press that MSHA hasn't been disproportionately targeting Massey since the blast or increased the pace of inspections.
"I didn't give any instructions to go and look at Massey mines," Stricklin said.
MSHA has tentatively blamed preventable accumulations of explosive methane gas and coal dust for the West Virginia explosion, the worst U.S. coal mining disaster since a blast killed 38 miners in December 1970 at Finley Coal Co. in Leslie County.
Inspectors visited more than 30 Massey mines in Kentucky, West Virginia and Virginia since the blast. Some, including Bent Branch Energy in Pike County, one of two Road Fork Development mines in Pike County, and Coalgood Energy in Harlan County, had no violations, MSHA records show.
But Stricklin sharply criticized Massey for violations found in the last 10 days at its other mines.
Those include conveyor belt problems at Massey's Aracoma Alma No. 1 mine in West Virginia, where a belt fire killed two men in 2006, and a build-up of coal dust on three occasions at the company's Solid Energy No. 1 mine in Pike County.
Stricklin called the dust accumulation "pitiful."
"You would think that personnel associated with Massey would be really more careful," he said.
Mines are required to keep methane below explosive levels with ventilation systems, and control coal dust by clearing it away and covering it with non-combustible material.
"There is an adage that a dirty mine is a dangerous mine," Oppegard said.
Massey is also facing its first wrongful death lawsuit in the April 5 blast, filed by by Marlene Griffith, a widow of one of the men killed, in Raleigh County, W.Va. The lawsuit also targets Performance Coal, the Massey subsidiary that operated the underground mine.
The lawsuit argues that Massey's handling of working conditions at the mine, plus its history of safety violations, amounted to aggravated conduct that rises above ordinary negligence.
Griffith and her husband, William Griffith, were planning to celebrate their 33rd wedding anniversary April 30, the lawsuit said.
Mark Moreland, a Charleston lawyer representing Griffith, said William Griffith was concerned about safety in the mine and had avoided serious injury during a rock fall there a week before his death.
Oppegard said if Massey doesn't change its attitude toward safety, its employees will be at risk. The company recently acquired more mines in Kentucky, he noted.
President Barack Obama this week ordered a sweeping review of coal mines with poor safety records and called for stronger mining laws following the Upper Big Branch blast.

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PostPosted: Tue Apr 20, 2010 9:48 am 
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America's dark history of coal

Miners have clashed, sometimes violently, with owners. Will it be deja vu in West Virginia?
Scott Martelle
April 20, 2010


Watching the events unfold around Massey Energy Co.'s Upper Big Branch coal mine the last few weeks created an uneasy sense of deja vu. And it had less to do with 29 miners' bodies below ground than with power plays and corporate hubris above it.

The deadly West Virginia mine explosion came four days after the 100th anniversary of the start of a lengthy Colorado coal strike that eventually led to open guerrilla warfare between miners and the Colorado National Guard. The nadir of that showdown was what came to be called the Ludlow Massacre when, at the end of a daylong gun battle on April 20, 1914, National Guardsmen torched a strikers' tent colony where 11 children and four mothers were hiding in a large pit beneath the wooden floor of one of the tents. All but two of the mothers perished.

Few people these days have heard of the Ludlow Massacre. Fewer still know about the circumstances in which it occurred. In the face of abject regulatory failure, at least 75 people were killed over a seven-month period during the strike, as several thousand coal miners openly rebelled against a corrupt local political and economic system.

West Virginia has its own history of violent mining confrontations, including the 1921 march on Blair Mountain when 13,000 armed miners faced off against mine guards, local militia and government troops. Sixteen men, most of them miners, were killed before the U.S. government sent in one of its newest weapons — planes — to intimidate the miners into retreating. It worked.

But there had been no defusing the conflict in Colorado, where the mine owners — led by the Rockefellers' Colorado Fuel & Iron Co. — were so powerful that they effectively created their own laws, stole elections at will and installed mine superintendents to rule small fiefdoms enforced by hired thugs.

As if short-circuiting democracy wasn't bad enough, the coal operators ignored government safety regulations, considering them an intrusion on their right to make a profit. In the eyes of the Rockefellers' man in Colorado, Lamont Montgomery Bowers, the miners had a simple choice: Work under the operators' terms or find another job, safety be damned.

Don Blankenship, who runs Massey Energy, would have fit right in among those Colorado coal barons. Media reports have detailed Blankenship's efforts to dominate state politics, including trying to stack the state Supreme Court as it was considering cases involving Massey.

Other media reports have detailed widespread safety violations at Massey mines. In one internal memo, Blankenship warned mine managers that they were to ignore any directive "to do anything other than run coal. … This memo is necessary only because we seem not to understand that the coal pays the bills."

Bowers would have been proud.

The Colorado strike began in the northern mines on April 1, 1910. After it faltered, the United Mine Workers expanded the strike in September 1913 to southern Colorado, covering the eastern foothills of the Rockies. Most of the miners' demands were already required under Colorado law, including that they be paid for "dead work" they had been doing for free — namely, shoring up mine roofs with timbers so they wouldn't collapse and kill them.

"The companies created a condition which they considered satisfactory to themselves, and ought to be to the workmen, and jammed the workmen into it, and thought they were philanthropists," Ethelbert B. Stewart, a top investigator for the new Department of Labor, wrote at the time. "That men have rebelled grows out of the fact that they are men."

The expanded strike was a nasty, brutal affair, and after a series of attacks and murders on both sides, Gov. Elias M. Ammons sent in the National Guard as peacekeepers. At the same time, state budget problems began delaying paychecks, which led many of the Guardsmen to walk away. The hated private mine guards took their places, and the peacekeepers morphed into the miners' enemy.

Then came the deaths at Ludlow on April 20, 1914. Over the next 10 days, amid a national union "call to arms," thousands of marauding miners and their supporters went on a rampage of retribution. At least 30 people were killed as the makeshift guerrilla army seized control of 275 miles of the Colorado Front Range.

Unable to stem the insurrection, Ammons sought help from President Woodrow Wilson, who sent in the Army to supplant the National Guard. The miners, with their immediate enemy gone, laid down their arms on May 1, and the fighting was over, with the miners winning the war but losing. It would take another 13 years and the Wobblies to gain union recognition there.

Yet much of the political and economic oppression in the region ended. To paraphrase Thomas Jefferson, a little revolution wasn't a bad thing for the miners of Colorado. Let's hope it doesn't take the same kind of action to redress the very deep grievances in West Virginia.

Scott Martelle is the author of "Blood Passion: The Ludlow Massacre and Class War in the American West."
Copyright © 2010, The Los Angeles Times

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PostPosted: Tue Apr 20, 2010 8:10 pm 
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Lets not forget that if your shoe lace is untied, that counts as a viloation. Is there any rhyme or reason to sort what violations were serious ? very serious, or life threatenind ? In other words a way to decimate the info on citations ?


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PostPosted: Tue Apr 20, 2010 8:45 pm 
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There is. It has to do with the section of the CFR they cite. Let me look into it.

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PostPosted: Tue Apr 20, 2010 9:09 pm 
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It might be helpful to go back and read the CFR. But this is a start.


http://www.msha.gov/PerformanceCoal/Cit ... ations.pdf


Data for UBBM

http://www.msha.gov/PerformanceCoal/Vio ... ummary.pdf

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PostPosted: Wed Apr 21, 2010 8:50 am 
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Orders and Citations are written under the authority of the Federal Mine Safety and Health Act of 1977. This is the law that created MSHA and gives them authority to take action.

http://www.msha.gov/REGS/ACT/ACTTC.HTM

The day to day rules are listed in Title 30 Code of Federal Regulations, usually called 30CFR, Part **. For example Part 48 is UG miner Training, Part 74 is General UG Coal Mine rules.

http://www.msha.gov/30CFR/CFRINTRO.HTM

When you see 103, 104 or 107 Orders or Citations those are referring to Sections of “the Actâ€

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