Environment
5:17 pm
Wed November 28, 2012

Kentucky Mine Flagged by MSHA, Placed on Special Status

The federal government has given four mines—including one in Kentucky—a warning that if they don’t make strides in health and safety, they could be put on a “pattern of violations” status.

Once a mine is marked as having a pattern of violations, any significant and substantial violations that are found by regulators would require that section of the mine to be temporarily shut down.

Pike Floyd Mining Inc.’s No. 3 Mine in Pike County was one of the four placed on the potential pattern of violations status. The others are in West Virginia and Louisiana. The mines can get out of the status if they reduce the number of violations to levels set by the Mine Safety and Health Administration.

The potential pattern of violation—or “PPOV” status—is fairly new. It was implemented after the 2010 explosion at the Upper Big Branch Mine in West Virginia to give errant coal mines earlier notice and more incentive to rectify known health or safety problems.

From the Mine Safety and Health Administration:

MSHA implemented improved screening criteria in 2010 to better identify mines that have been subject to closure orders, including for serious issues such as failing to correct violations cited by MSHA, unwarrantable failures to comply with health or safety standards, failure to provide miners with required training and imminent dangers in the mine. The criteria better identify mines where these tools have been used but have not been sufficient to improve compliance. The criteria also consider whether a mine has a high number of significant and substantial, or S&S, violations involving elevated negligence as well as a mine’s injury severity rate, targeting operations that have an above-average injury severity measure.

“The revised potential pattern of violations program, along with other enforcement actions such as impact inspections, is making mines safer,” said Joseph A. Main, assistant secretary of labor for mine safety and health. “The number of chronic violators meeting improved screening criteria has substantially dropped since we began implementing these criteria in 2010.”

Two other mines that aren’t currently producing coal were warned that they’ll also be on the PPOV status once they resume production. Those are D & C Mining Corp.’s mine in Harlan County and a mine in Idaho.