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Archive for September, 2012

Genwal Settlement Shows Contributory Violations

Posted by Ellen Smith on September 28, 2012

MSHA and Murray Energy subsidiary Genwal Resources announced a $949,351 settlement of violations that led to the 2007 Crandall Canyon Mine Disaster in Utah, that killed six miners and three rescuers in two separate collapses.

The settlement, not yet been approved by Review Commission Judge Richard Manning, represents a 42% overall reduction in the overall penalties that had been levied against the company after the fatal bounces. MSHA initially sought $1,636,664 in proposed penalties against the company.

The original penalties for nine contributory violations listed in MSHA’s final report on the disaster totaled $1,340,000 and were settled for $874,000 with two of the contributory violations vacated.

The settlement before ALJ Manning shows a total settlement of $1,150,000, contained in 20 dockets before the Review Commission.

Solicitor of Labor M. Patricia Smith stated in a press release, “In this settlement, Genwal Resources and Andalex Resources have acknowledged responsibility for the failures that led to the tragedy at Crandall Canyon,” said. “These failures resulted in the needless deaths of nine members of the mining community.”

Genwal stated in a company press release that it “would have presented evidence that the alleged violations did not contribute to the cause or effect of the 2007 accidents.”

The settlement agreement submitted to ALJ Manning states that “Neither this settlement agreement nor the mine operators’ consent to entry of a final order by the Review Commission pursuant to this Agreement constitutes any admission by the operators of a violation of the Federal Mine Safety and Health Act or regulations or standards promulgated thereunder, except for purposes of proceedings under the Mine Act. The stipulations, findings and action taken herein are made for the purpose of settling this matter amicably, and they should not be used for any purpose, except proceedings and matters arising under the Mine Act.”

The settlement also includes $200,649 to settle other citations and orders at other Murray subsidiary mines in Utah: West Ridge Mine, Aberdeen Mine and the Lila Canyon Mine, and there are no modifications to those citations or orders. According to the Genwal press release, these were “other administrative actions that are unrelated to the Crandall Canyon civil penalties.” However, “orders” in terms of Mine Act violations are generally not administrative violations.

In a short interview with Mine Safety and Health News, MSHA-head Joe Main said that the company agreed tot he settlement with four of the violations still listed “contributory” and “this is part of the acknowledgment of the companies in terms of the settlement.”

“If you look at where we are at I believe the violations contained in that settlement supported MSHA’s investigation findings, and the operator allowed the conditions at Crandall Canyon to deteriorate and ignored the warning signs that led to the tragedy. That’s the front end of what this settlement recognizes.”

Below is a list of MSHA’s original contributory violations, and the settlement amounts and changes. A complete story of the settlement and citations will be in Mine Safety and Health News, Vol. 19, No. 19.

Citation # 7697007
Type of Issuance: 104 (d) (2) Order
Standard Violated: 30 CFR 75.203 (a)
Gravity: S&S, Fatal, Occurred
Negligence: High
Proposed Penalty: $60,000
Settlement: $60,000 – no change
Condition or Practice: During pillar development and recovery in the Main West Barrier
sections, pillar dimensions were not compatible with effective control of coal or rock bursts.
Pillar stability analysis confirms that the length and width of pillars within the active workings,
as well as dimensions of the adjoining barrier pillars, did not provide sufficient strength to
withstand stresses during pillar recovery. This also constitutes a violation of 75.202(a).
On August 6, 2007, a sudden and violent failure of the overstressed coal pillars and barrier
occurred in the Main West South Barrier working section. This instantaneous release of energy
caused the coal ribs to burst, fatally injuring the six man production crew. A second failure of a
coal pillar occurred on August 16, 2007, fatally injuring three rescuers and injuring six other
rescuers. This constituted an unwarrantable failure to comply with a mandatory standard.

Citation # 7697008
Type of Issuance: 104 (d) (2) Order
Standard Violated: 30 CFR 75.203 (a)
Gravity: S&S, Fatal, Occurred
Negligence: High
Proposed Penalty: $60,000
Settlement: $60,000 – changed from contributory to non-contributory
Condition or Practice: During pillar recovery of the Main West South Barrier section from July
15, 2007, until August 6, 2007, the mining of bottom coal exposed persons to hazards caused by
faulty pillar recovery methods. GRI mined up to five feet of additional bottom coal from the
barrier and the pillars. This resulted in pillars with heights up to 13 feet, as opposed to the
original 8-foot high pillars. This compromised the stability of the pillars. These pillar
dimensions were not compatible with effective control of coal or rock bursts.
On August 6, 2007, a sudden and violent failure of the overstressed coal pillars occurred,
instantaneously releasing large amounts of accumulated energy that exposed miners on the Main
West South Barrier section to hazards related to the coal burst. This constitutes an unwarrantable
failure to comply with a mandatory standard.

Citation # 7697004
Type of Issuance: 104 (d) (2) Order
Standard Violated: 30 CFR 75.223 (a)
Gravity: S&S, Fatal, Occurred
Negligence: High
Proposed Penalty: $60,000
Settlement: Vacated – evidence did not meet strict requirements necessary to establish violations
Condition or Practice: Revisions of the roof control plan were not proposed by the operator
when conditions at the mine indicated that the plan was not adequate or suitable for controlling
the roof, face, ribs or coal bursts. These conditions included bounces, which occurred in the
Main West North Barrier section that resulted in roof and rib damage, and caused miners to fall
onto the mine floor and a reportable coal outburst that occurred on March 7, 2007. The
operator’s failure to make appropriate changes to its roof control plan contributed to the August 6, 2007 fatal accident. This constitutes an unwarrantable failure to comply with a mandatory
standard.

Citation # 7697005
Type of Issuance: 104 (d) (2) Order Standard Violated: 30 CFR 75.223 (a)
Gravity: S&S, Fatal, Occurred
Negligence: High
Proposed Penalty: $60,000
Settlement: $60,000 – negligence changed from “high” to “moderate.”
Condition or Practice: The operator did not propose adequate revisions to the roof control plan
when conditions at the mine indicated that the plan was not adequate or suitable for controlling
the roof, face, ribs or coal bursts. These conditions included bounces that occurred in the Main
West North Barrier section and resulted in roof and rib damage and equipment damage, and a
coal outburst, which occurred on March 10, 2007 and caused substantial damage to the section.
The revisions to the roof control plan proposed following the March 10, 2007 coal outburst did
not make the plan adequate or suitable for controlling the roof, face, ribs or coal or rock bursts.
The operator’s failure to make appropriate changes to its roof control plan contributed to the
August 6, 2007 fatal accident. This was an unwarrantable failure to comply with a mandatory
standard.

Citation # 7697006
Type of Issuance: 104 (d) (2) Order
Standard Violated: 30 CFR 75.223 (a)
Gravity: S&S, Fatal, Occurred
Negligence: Reckless Disregard (Flagrant)
Proposed Penalty: $220,000
Settlement: $220,000 – no change
Condition or Practice: Revisions of the roof control plan were not proposed by the operator
when conditions at the mine indicated that the plan was not adequate or suitable for controlling
the roof, face, ribs or coal bursts. These conditions included bounces that occurred in the Main
West South Barrier section that resulted in roof and rib damage, and caused miners to fall onto
the mine floor and a reportable coal outburst that occurred on August 3, 2007. The operator’s
failure to make appropriate changes to its roof control plan contributed to the August 6, 2007
fatal accident. This constitutes an unwarrantable failure to comply with a mandatory standard.

Citation # 7018222
Type of Issuance: 104 (d) (2) Order
Standard Violated: 30 CFR 75.220 (a) (1)
Gravity: S&S, Fatal, Occurred
Negligence: Reckless Disregard (flagrant)
Proposed Penalty: $220,000
Settlement: $207,000 – changed to non-contributory
Condition or Practice: 30 CFR 75.220(a) (1) requires that a mine operator develop and follow a
roof control plan approved by the District Manager. The mine operator did not follow the
approved roof control plan amendment dated June 15, 2007 addressing pillar recovery mining in
the Main West South Barrier. The site specific approved plan does not permit mining in any of
the barrier to the south of the No. 1 entry between crosscut 142 and crosscut 139. The barrier
south of the No. 1 entry was mined in this restricted mining area. This mining worsened the
stability of the barrier and pillars in this area and contributed to the fatal accident on August 6.
This violation constitutes an unwarrantable failure to comply with a mandatory standard.

Citation # 7697001
Type of Issuance: 104 (d) (2) Order
Standard Violated: 30 CFR 50.10
Gravity: S&S, Fatal, Occurred
Negligence: Reckless Disregard
Proposed Penalty: $220,000
Settlement: Vacated
Condition or Practice: The operator did not immediately contact MSHA at once without delay
and within 15 minutes at the toll-free number, 1-800-746-1553, once the operator knew that an
accident in the Main West North Barrier section occurred on March 7, 2007. A coal outburst
threw coal into the mine openings, disrupting regular mining activity for more than one hour.
The accident was not reported to MSHA pursuant to this standard. Without proper notification,
MSHA had no opportunity to investigate this accident. The failure to report this accident denied
MSHA an opportunity to investigate it and learn that the mining methods provided inadequate
protections. This failure contributed to the August 6 fatal accident. This violation is an
unwarrantable failure to comply with a mandatory standard.

Citation # 7697002
Type of Issuance: 104 (d) (2) Order
Standard Violated: 30 CFR 50.10
Gravity: S&S, Fatal, Occurred
Negligence: Reckless Disregard
Proposed Penalty: $220,000
Settlement: $207,000 – changed from contributory to non-contributory
Condition or Practice: The operator did not immediately contact MSHA at once without delay
and within 15 minutes at the toll-free number, 1-800-746-1553, once the operator knew that an
accident in the Main West North Barrier section occurred on March 10, 2007. A coal outburst
threw coal into the mine openings, disrupting regular mining activity for more than one hour.
The accident was not reported to MSHA pursuant to this standard. The failure to report this
accident denied MSHA an opportunity to investigate it and learn that the mining methods
provided inadequate protections. This failure contributed to the August 6 fatal accident. This
violation is an unwarrantable failure to comply with a mandatory standard.

Citation # 7697003
Type of Issuance: 104 (d) (2) Order
Standard Violated: 30 CFR 50.10
Gravity: S&S, Fatal, Occurred
Negligence: Reckless Disregard (Flagrant)
Proposed Penalty: $220,000
Settlement: $60,000 – high negligence, but order remains as contributory
Condition or Practice: The operator did not immediately contact MSHA at once without delay
and within 15 minutes at the toll-free number, 1-800-746-1553, once the operator knew that an
accident in the Main West South Barrier section occurred on August 3, 2007. A coal outburst
threw coal into the mine openings, disrupting regular mining activity for more than one hour.
The accident was not reported to MSHA pursuant to this standard. The failure to report this
accident denied MSHA an opportunity to investigate it and learn that the mining methods
provided inadequate protections. This failure contributed to the August 6 fatal accident. This
violation is an unwarrantable failure to comply with a mandatory standard.

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Settlement for Genwal

Posted by Ellen Smith on September 27, 2012

Last night we requested a settlement between DOL and Genwal Resources for the 2007 Crandal Canyon Mine Disaster. AP is now reporting a $941,351 settlement Will updates as soon as we get the settlement.

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