On February 18, 2011, an inspection party arrived during the evening shift at D&C Mining Corp. in Harlan County, Ky. The inspectors captured and monitored the phones to prevent advance notification of their arrival and, as a result of the inspection, issued 17 citations and one order. Two-thirds of those issuances were designated as significant and substantial (S&S) violations. This visit marked the fourth impact inspection conducted at this mine since April 2010.

A 104(b) order, which closed an entire section of the mine, was issued because the mine operator failed to provide a refuge alternative for miners on the active working section to use in the event of a mine fire, explosion or other emergency. D&C Mining also was cited for an inoperable emergency communications system in the primary escapeway, as well as for a number of violations that presented a fire or explosion risk, including failure to comply with the dust controls portion of its ventilation plan, electrical violations such as inadequate electrical exams, and failure to follow its approved plan to prevent smoking articles from entering the mine.

In October 2010, during an impact inspection at WW Manchester Construction Co.’s WW Manchester mine in Hartford, Conn., MSHA issued 17 citations. MSHA found no violations during a subsequent spot inspection one month later.

Other mines have not been as responsive in fixing problems. At Left Fork Mining’s Straight Creek No. 1, a coal mine in Bell County, Ky., MSHA found serious violations during both regular inspections and two impact inspections conducted in April and September 2010. On November 19, Straight Creek received a notice it had a potential pattern of violations (POV).

From November 19 until Deccember 7, 2010, during another impact inspection, Straight Creek was issued 94 citations and orders, including 10 104(d) withdrawal orders and four 104(b) withdrawal orders for failing to abate prior violations. The 104(b) orders prohibited any work except that necessary to abate the prior violations. Straight Creek ceased production on December 8, 2010. Since that time, Straight Creek has been issued more than 50 additional citations and orders, including 23 more 104(b) orders for failing to fix previously cited violations. Straight Creek’s potential POV evaluation period has been suspended until production resumes.

This mine previously had been cited for notifying mining personnel that MSHA inspectors were on-site and subsequently received an injunction in federal court.

Since April 2010, MSHA has conducted 228 impact inspections. These inspections have resulted in 4,268 citations, 396 orders and 13 safeguards.