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MSHA News Release: [05/23/2006]
Contact: Amy Louviere   Dirk Fillpot
Phone:    (202) 693-9406   (202) 693-9423
Release Number 06-914-NAT


MSHA Names Team to Investigate Darby Mine No. 1 Accident

ARLINGTON, Va - The U.S. Department of Labor's Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) today announced the appointment of a team to investigate the explosion at the Darby Mine No. 1 in Harlan County, Ky. Five miners died following the explosion at the mine on May 20.

"MSHA's investigation will fully examine all the evidence to find the cause of the explosion at the Darby Mine No. 1 and any violations of safety and health standards," said David G. Dye, MSHA acting administrator. "We will conduct a thorough investigation to ensure that we find the root cause of this accident. We want to help prevent similar accidents in the future. We also intend to coordinate our investigation closely with the commonwealth of Kentucky."

An independent team of MSHA mine-safety professionals with nationwide experience will evaluate all aspects of the accident, including potential causes and compliance with federal health and safety standards. The team will examine the accident site, interview mine personnel and others with relevant information, review records and plans and inspect any mining equipment involved at the mine. MSHA will issue a formal report summarizing the findings and conclusions of the investigative team, identifying root causes of the accident and how the incident unfolded. Any contributing violations of federal mine safety standards that existed will be cited at the investigation's conclusion.

Dye announced on Monday that Thomas Light will head MSHA's investigative team for the Darby Mine No. 1 accident. Light is assistant district manager of MSHA's district 2 in New Stanton, Pa.

Other team members and their specializations include the following: Anthony Guley, enforcement and compliance; Mark Odum, ventilation and roof control; Robert Bates, electrical systems; James Bowman, special investigations; Gerald Cook, enforcement; and Mark Schroeder and Charles Campbell, both with specialization in ventilation and mine gasses. All members of MSHA's investigation team are from outside the region of the Darby Mine No. l location.

Since the initial hours of the incident, MSHA personnel have maintained a constant presence at the mine site, accompanying mine-rescue teams underground, providing technical assistance, monitoring ongoing conditions at the mine and keeping the victims' families informed of any progress.

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