$342,000 Penalty in Darby Mine Case to Be Paid in Full

The Mine Safety and Health Administration announced Thursday that the full $342,000 in penalties it assessed against the operator of the Darby Mine #1 in Harlan County, Ky., will be paid by Oct. 19. The operator has withdrawn its challenge to the citations issued after the May 20, 2006, explosion that killed five miners, and the Federal Mine Safety and Health Review Commission approved Kentucky Darby LLC's formal request to drop the challenge to the six violations.

"MSHA cited and assessed Darby #1 Mine appropriately for its disregard of basic safety practices that led to the deaths of five workers," Richard Stickler, acting assistant secretary of labor for mine safety and health, said Thursday. "We will continue to hold mine operators accountable whenever there are violations of safety requirements."

MSHA's investigation concluded the explosion occurred when a mine foreman cut a metal roof strap extending through seals with an acetylene torch. This ignited explosive levels of methane that had accumulated behind the seals. Two miners near the seals died immediately, and three miners trying to evacuate the mine after the explosion died from carbon monoxide poisoning. Another miner was injured but was rescued while escaping from the mine, according to MSHA.

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