Massey, MSHA Reach Settlement on Kentucky Mine

The settlement covers the work that will be done to permanently close the mine, over which MSHA sought an injunction last fall.

The Mine Safety and Health Administration and Massey Energy reached a settlement agreement Jan. 5 in a case involving Freedom Energy Mining Co.'s Mine No. 1 located in Pike County, Ky. MSHA had sought a preliminary injunction against the mine last November, the first such action it had ever taken under section 108(a)(2) of the Federal Mine Safety and Health Act of 1977, which provides for injunctive relief against noncompliant mine operators who habitually violate health and safety standards. Massey then announced it would close the mine permanently.

"Today's agreement is a legal victory not only for the Department of Labor but for all miners employed by Freedom Energy," Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis said in a news release. "Its powerful provisions allow MSHA to withdraw miners immediately over a broad range of hazardous conditions and health and safety violations. More than ever, these types of actions are forcing mine operators to take a hard look at their safety practices."

The order signed by U.S. District Judge Amul R. Thapar requires Freedom Energy to comply with a recovery plan that will ensure the health and safety of miners who continue working at the mine as they dismantle and remove mine equipment in preparation for permanent closure, according to DOL. Freedom also must provide timetables for the removal activities, and the highest management official, including the mine superintendent, must be available at the mine during each working shift to review and countersign the results of each pre-shift, on-shift, and weekly examination performed by a certified mine examiner.

Miners idled because of a withdrawal covered by the order must be paid for the period during which they were idled, up to one week. For longer periods, the company must offer alternate equivalent work within a 60-mile radius of the mine.

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