Dave D. Lauriski
Assistant Secretary of Labor for Mine Safety and Health
Regarding the Issuance of the Fatal Accident Report for
Cody Mining Company's Number 1 Mine near McDowell, Ky.
October 23, 2003
Today, the Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) released its investigative report on the fatal explosives accident at Cody Mining Company's Number 1 Mine near McDowell, Ky., in June. Our hearts go out to the family of the victim of this accident and we hope to never see anything like this ever happen again.
MSHA investigators issued 71 citations and orders to Cody Mining for violations of federal mine safety and health regulations, 62 of which were considered an "unwarrantable failure" to comply with the law.
These citations are a reflection of the appalling and egregiously unsafe manner in which this mine was operated. This was one of the most poorly managed and operated coal mines where safety is concerned that I've seen in more than 30 years in the field of mine safety. 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. This matter will be reviewed for maximum civil and criminal penalties.
While the Mine Act specifically states that the mine operator has the responsibility to operate a mine in a safe manner, I am particularly disturbed and deeply disappointed that there were unexcused deficiencies in the performance of MSHA personnel assigned to oversee and inspect this mine. MSHA inspectors hold high professional standards for themselves and perform their jobs responsibly. However, as in any large organization, there are instances where individual performance may not live up to the high expectations set for them. Unfortunately, that was the case here. We have taken action with regard to these deficiencies.
The results of this investigation are being discussed with agency personnel. I intend to re-emphasize that MSHA inspectors are expected to enforce all mine safety and health rules in a firm and fair fashion. There is no discretion when it comes to abiding by the mandates of the Federal Mine Safety and Health Act of 1977. The nation's miners and their families expect that. And I will accept nothing less.