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Tremont mine achieves dubious first, will pay $900k

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in Employment Law,Human Resources

The R&D Coal Co. has become the first company to be cited for a flagrant safety violation under the Mine Improvement and New Emergency Response (MINER) Act of 2006. On Oct. 23, 2006, methane detonated in a tunnel at the Tremont Township mine, killing Dale Reightler.

The company will pay fines and penalties totaling $905,825.

The Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) concluded the explosion occurred “because the mine operator failed to comply with approved ventilation and roof control plans, engaged in poor blasting practices, assigned unqualified personnel to blasting work and conducted improper pre-shift examinations.”

In all, MSHA issued 10 citations, six of which were for flagrant violations.

The MINER Act defines a flagrant violation as “a reckless or repeated failure to make reasonable efforts to eliminate a known violation of a mandatory safety and health standard that substantially and proximately caused, or reasonably could have been expected to cause, death or serious bodily injury.”

A civil penalty of up to $220,000 may be assessed for each flagrant violation.

The mine closed immediately following the blast and was sealed in 2007. R&D contested all the charges over the past four years, but finally agreed to withdraw its objections and pay the entire amounts, including penalties.

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