Mine Safety and Health Administration
Contact: Rodney Brown
Phone: (202) 693-9425
Released Thursday, October 23, 2003
MSHA Issues Investigation Report on Kentucky Mine Death
ARLINGTON, Va. - The U.S. Department of Labor's Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) today issued its investigative report on a June explosives accident that claimed the life of a 21-year-old Kentucky miner and injured two others. MSHA investigators found that seven serious violations by Cody Mining Co., Inc., at its Number 1 Mine near McDowell, Ky., contributed to the accident, six of which were considered an "unwarrantable failure" to comply with Federal law. They also cited the company for 64 non-contributing violations of mine safety rules found during the accident investigation. Fifty-six of these were considered unwarrantable failure violations.
"This was one of the most poorly managed and operated coal mines where safety is concerned that I've seen during more than 30 years in the field of mine safety," said Dave D. Lauriski, Assistant Secretary of Labor for Mine Safety and Health. "This company recklessly disregarded rules intended to protect workers on the job. We intend to pursue this case to the fullest extent allowable by law."
Each violation cited by accident investigators carries a civil penalty of up to $60,000. Penalties will be determined at a later date.
Key findings of the MSHA investigation include:
--Poor mining practices at the site resulted in excessive entry and crosscut widths, undersized pillars, misaligned openings and other unlawful conditions.
--The mine's preshift examinations failed to identify obvious hazardous conditions, some of which existed for extended periods of time.
--Investigators found that the accident scene had been altered when a non-permissible drill was moved from the accident site.
--Detonation of an excessive amount of explosives was a contributing factor in the accident.
--A quantity of substance found in at the accident site in a clear plastic bag was identified by the Kentucky State Police laboratory as marijuana.
MSHA's report of the Cody Mine accident investigation can be read on MSHA's web site at www.msha.gov.