Last month, a joint project by NPR and Mine Safety and Health News revealed that many of the nation’s mines—coal and otherwise—operate despite owing large sums of money to the federal government for health and safety violations.
The government rarely takes action to force mine controllers to pay their debts, and even when regulators take legal action, only a small percentage of the fines are paid. And NPR’s analysis of the data revealed something else even more troubling: while these mines are in delinquency, they’re more dangerous places to work.
There was a wealth of data that went into reporting the NPR story, and only a fraction made it into the final product. Here’s a deeper look at some of the Kentucky-centric data.
Injuries During Delinquency
These are all of the mines in Kentucky where injuries happened while the mines were delinquent on federal penalties. Locations are approximate. Click on each pin to see the name of the mine and how many workers were injured during the delinquency period.
Delinquent Fines by Kentucky County
Fines and Injuries by Kentucky Controller
The NPR investigation also found that many of these delinquent mines are controlled by the same people, though they might be operated by others and do business under multiple company names. Of the top 10 controllers who owe the most money in delinquent penalties to the federal government, six of them do business in Kentucky.
Of these six, the federal government only took three to court in an attempt to recoup some of the delinquent penalties. Five out of the six controllers reported injuries during the period in which his payments were delinquent.