On 24 July 2008 the U.S. Department of Labor’s Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) announced that it has fined the operator of the Crandall Canyon Mine in Emery County, Utah, $1,340,000 for violations that directly contributed to the deaths of six miners in 2007.
According to MSHA’s media release, Agapito Associates Inc., a mining engineering consultant, was fined $220,000 for faulty analysis of the mine’s design. MSHA cited the mine operator for 11 additional, non-contributory violations issued as the result of the investigation. The proposed penalty for these violations is $296,664, bringing the total proposed penalties against the mine operator to $1,636,664. Crandall Canyon Mine is operated by Genwal Resources Inc., whose parent company is Murray Energy Corp.
Safety At Work magazine covered the incident extensively as it provided a stained mirror to the lucky rescue of the miners from Tasmania’s Beaconsfield mine. I reported elsewhere on the fresh seismology findings.
The MSHA report states that
“Three separate methods of analysis employed as part of MSHA’s investigation confirmed that the mining plan was destined to fail.” (my emphasis)
To a non-US observer the fine seems remarkably light given that the mining plan was critically deficient, 6 people died in the first incident and 3 died ten days later.
Not everyone is happy with how the investigation has been conducted.
MSHA accident investigators have cited Genwal Resources Inc. and Agapito Associates Inc. for the following violations:
- The mine operator did not immediately contact MSHA after coal outbursts threw coal into the mine openings and disrupted regular mining activities for more than one hour on three separate occasions prior to the August 6 outburst.
- The mine operator failed to propose revisions to the roof control plan when conditions (coal outbursts) clearly indicated that the plan was inadequate and miners were being exposed to dangerous conditions.
- The operator violated the approved roof control plan by removing coal that was required to support the roof.
- The operator’s outside engineering firm failed to recommend safe mining methods and pillar/barrier dimensions, and the operator failed to maintain pillar dimensions that would effectively control coal outbursts.
The complete accident investigation report (16 megabyte) is available at as is MSHA’s response and additional content.
The earlier investigation report by the Utah Mine Safety Commission is available HERE
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