Big Settlement Announced in Crandall Canyon Mine Case

The $1.15 million settlement resolves the Labor Department's civil case with the operators, Murray Energy Corp. subsidiaries Genwal Resources Inc. and Andalex Resources Inc., for violations revealed by the August 2007 mine collapse.

The U.S. Department of Labor and the operators of the Crandall Canyon Mine have reached a $1.15 million settlement to end the department's civil case stemming from the underground coal mine's collapse in August 2007 and to resolve pending violations. MSHA had issued 20 enforcement citations against Murray Energy Corp. subsidiaries Genwal Resources Inc. and Andalex Resources Inc., in connection with the mine's Aug. 6, 2007, initial collapse, which killed six miners; two other miners and an MSHA inspector died Aug. 16, 2007, while trying to rescue the six missing miners. The violations alleged the operators' "grossly deficient" mine design caused pillar failures inside the mine, and MSHA proposed $1,639,351 in penalties.

The mine is located in Carbon County, Utah. This is the county where what is known as the Castle Gate mine disaster occurred March 8, 1924, when two dust explosions inside Utah Fuel Co.'s Mine #2 killed 171 miners. The leader of a rescue crew also died from carbon monoxide exposure.

DOL's news release says the civil case against Genwal Resources Inc. and Andalex Resources Inc. was stayed between December 2008 and March 2012 so the U.S. Department of Justice could complete a criminal investigation. "In this settlement, Genwal Resources and Andalex Resources have acknowledged responsibility for the failures that led to the tragedy at Crandall Canyon," said Solicitor of Labor M. Patricia Smith. "These failures resulted in the needless deaths of nine members of the mining community."

The companies have accepted four of the citations and orders as "contributory," meaning the violations contributed to the cause or effect of the accident. The operators also agreed to classifying violations of three safety standards as "flagrant," the most serious category possible under the Federal Mine Safety and Health Act of 1977, with the highest possible penalty, and two of the flagrant violations are directly related to criminal charges brought by the U.S. attorney's office in Salt Lake City. Genwal Resources pleaded guilty to two charges in March 2012.

"The violations contained in this settlement support MSHA's investigation findings that the mine operators allowed conditions at Crandall Canyon to deteriorate and ignored the warning signs," said Joe Main, assistant secretary of labor for mine safety and health. "This was a tragedy that should never have happened. Miners deserve to return home after a shift in the same condition they left. MSHA will continue to fight for that right on behalf of our nation's miners."

In the settlement, Genwal Resources and Andalex Resources agreed to pay a total of $949,351 in civil penalties, and they also agreed to pay $200,649 to settle other violations at other Utah mines. Three enforcement actions with $340,000 in penalties have been vacated. DOL said the settlement has been filed with Federal Mine Safety and Health Review Commission Administrative Law Judge Richard Manning for his consideration.

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