Mine Fatalities Bring Million-Dollar Fine

MSHA announced it has imposed a fine of $1,077,800 in the case.

MSHA announced that it has imposed a big fine of $1,077,800 following its investigation into the deaths of two miners at Revenue Mine on Nov. 17, 2013.

The agency's release states that 1,600 pounds of deteriorated explosives were detonated underground the day before the accident occurred, and members of the next shift were not notified of the activities, nor was the area where the explosives were set off barricaded. Two miners on the evening shift became ill and, despite complaints of bad air, no action was taken to identify or correct the hazardous condition. Carbon monoxide was released into the air following the explosion, MSHA determined.

The next day, one of the miners was overcome by toxic levels of carbon monoxide, and when the shift boss made an attempt to rescue him, he was overcome by the toxic air as well. Twenty other miners were exposed to carbon monoxide while unsuccessfully attempting to rescue the victims. Seven were hospitalized.

MSHA investigators determined the fatal accident occurred due to management's failure to dispose of deteriorated explosives in a safe manner. The explosives were detonated in an area of the mine that was not ventilated. Management also failed to take any action when two miners went into the unventilated Monogahela Drift and reported feeling ill, and it failed to withdraw miners as a result of the imminent danger created by the blast, the agency reported. As a result, MSHA issued eight unwarrantable failure orders, including six designated as flagrant violations.

"Mr. Cappanno and Mr. Williams' deaths were entirely preventable," said Joe Main, assistant secretary of labor for mine safety and health. "They were the result of mine management's failure to establish and follow basic safety precautions."

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