Darby Mine owners will pay more than $340,000 for fatal explosion

The U.S. Department of Labor’s Mine Safety and Health Administration announced Thursday that the operator of the Darby Mine #1 in Harlan County, Ky., withdrew its challenge to citations issued following the May 2006 explosion that claimed five miners’ lives. The Federal Mine Safety and Health Review Commission approved Kentucky Darby LLC’s formal request to drop its challenge of six contributory safety and health violations that totaled $342,000. The company will be required to pay the penalty in full by Oct. 19, 2008.

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

MSHA’s accident investigation determined that the explosion occurred when a mine foreman cut a metal roof strap, which extended through seals on the roof, with an acetylene torch, igniting explosive levels of methane that had accumulated behind the sealed area. Two miners located near the seals died immediately, and three miners trying to evacuate the mine after the explosion died from carbon monoxide poisoning.

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