West Virginia Mine Accident Reporting Rule Upheld

Posted on behalf of Stewart Bell, PLLC on Dec 06, 2010 in Coal Mining Accidents

There is no time to waste after a serious coal mine accident , so it's no surprise that West Virginia has a law requiring operators to notify mining officials within 15 minutes of a serious incident.

Despite coal company efforts to get the safety law overturned in court, a Kanawha County Circuit Court judge recently upheld the safety requirement. The ruling involves the Wolf Run Mining Co., a subsidiary of International Coal Group, Inc. The company was fined $100,000 in 2008 for failing to report a gas ignition in time.

According to Business Week, the fine had been overturned by the West Virginia Coal Mine Safety Board of Appeals.

The 15-minute requirement was one of many safety law changes made in the wake of the deaths of 12 coal miners at the Sago Mine in early 2006. Sago is owned by ICG.

The Wolf Run decision means the new laws have cleared their first legal hurdle. The appeal of the overturned fine was brought by the Office of Miners' Health Safety and Training, which had a similar legal triumph two years ago when a Kanawha County Circuit judge restored a $100,000 fine against Massey Energy Co. after the company had gotten it knocked down to $10,000 by the Board of Appeals.

Assistant Attorney General Elaine Skorich hailed the recent ruling: "It's reassuring to know that the laws passed after the Sago Mine disaster are working to promote safety for West Virginia's coal miners," she said.

An ICG attorney said the company is considering an appeal.

Source: Business Week: "Judge upholds W.Va. mine accident reporting rule": November 24, 2010

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