On July 15, in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Kentucky, Southern Division, Judge Amul R. Thapar ordered defendant CAM Mining not to interfere, hinder or delay the inspection of its Mine No. 28 by giving advance notice of a pending inspection by MSHA through any means of communication to any person working underground. Employees and contractors at the mine must be trained in the requirements of this court order within 30 days, and a copy of the order must be posted at any place where the defendant maintains a communication device between any surface operation and the underground workings of the mine. The order must be incorporated into the defendant’s emergency response plan, hazard recognition training and annual refresher training plans. The order obtained by the department’s Office of the Solicitor will last for three years, but the prohibition of advance notice is permanent as long as it remains part of the Federal Mine Safety and Health Act of 1977.
This action stems from a June 17 attempt by MSHA to inspect the mine in response to a complaint registered about miners smoking underground on the second shift. When an inspection team arrived at the mine, team members gave instructions to mine management that no one was to call underground and alert the miners working there of the inspection. The team then learned that a mine foreman had been notified MSHA inspectors were outside the mine entrance, giving the miners underground sufficient time and opportunity to hide any smoking materials.