The Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) said this week that a surprise impact inspection on June 24 resulted in 38 violations, including seven 104(d)(2)closure orders for ventilation violations, as well as tickets for equipment conditions, damaged electrical cables, self-contained self-rescuers and the presence of combustible materials.
MSHA claimed the found conditions have the potential to put miners at risk of developing black lung disease and increased the potential for deadly explosions that “underscor[e] the importance of mine safety vigilance and the need for continued improvements in controlling coal dust” for mines across the country.
Inspectors also told management that the operation had failed to follow approved ventilation, methane and dust control plans in several locations of the underground mine.
The inspection and announcement by MSHA comes just weeks after new respirable dust regulations, which go into effect August 1, that toughen up standards for all underground coal mines.
While MSHA often makes several impact inspections per month and exemplifies multiple mines in its regular results announcements, no others were targeted in its July 7 statement.
Rhino has so far not released any comments about the inspection, the timing of the violations against the August 1 federal implementation date or if it plans to appeal any of the citations.
However, MSHA assistant secretary of labor for mine safety and health called the conditions at Eagle 3 “alarming” and said that they “show that common-sense practices to prevent black lung, mine explosions and other hazards were ignored,” going on to say that there “is absolutely no excuse for allowing such dangerous conditions to exist, and miners deserve better.”
Eagle 3’s visit was not the first for MSHA; it confirmed it revisited the mine because of an elevated citation rate in the first quarter of 2014, along with a high number of violations logged during an impact inspection in May.