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How do I contest a penalty assessment?

When a civil penalty is assessed, a mine operator has 30 days in which to file a contest and request a hearing before a Federal Mine Safety and Health Review Commission administrative law judge. Every civil penalty assessment lists each citation and/or order for which a penalty is being assessed. An operator has the option to contest all or some of the penalties by placing a checkmark beside each citation and/or order listed on the assessment that it wants to contest. The operator is also requested to state the reasons for the contest. A copy of the contested assessment must be returned to MSHA's Civil Penalty Compliance Office in Arlington, Virginia within 30 days of the operator's receipt. An operator who wants to contest a civil penalty assessment must provide such notification regardless of whether it has previously contested the underlying citation(s) and/or order(s). If, within 30 days from receipt of the Secretary’s proposed penalty assessment, an operator fails to notify the Secretary that it contests the proposed penalty, the Secretary’s proposed penalty assessment will be deemed a final order of the Commission and not subject to review by any court or agency.