Massey Fined $4.2 Million for Deadly Aracoma Mine Fire 3

Posted by Brad Johnson Thu, 25 Dec 2008 02:08:00 GMT

Coal giant Massey Energy was fined Tuesday $2.5 million in criminal fines and $1.7 million in civil fines for a deadly 2006 mine fire controlled by its subsidiary, Aracoma Coal Co.

From Reuters:
A subsidiary of Massey Energy, Aracoma Coal Co, will pay $4.2 million for safety violations that led to the deaths of two miners in 2006.

“The global settlement is the largest financial settlement in the coal industry’s history,” the Justice Department said in a statement on Tuesday.

Federal mine inspectors decided to ignore violations to “let them run coal.”

Minness Justice, an inspector with the federal Mine Safety and Health Administration, told fellow MSHA employee Danny Woods that he believed dangerous amounts of spilled coal and dust had been allowed to accumulate along the belt line, raising the risk of a fire, and that the belt’s fire suppression system was inadequate, Mr. Woods said.

“He was just told to back off and let them run coal, that there was too much demand for coal,” Mr. Woods said. “He came up and told me he was told to do certain things and the inspectors before him hadn’t done a proper job.”

Massey Energy CEO Don Blankenship also decided to ignore violations to allow the miners to continue to “run coal.”
Blankenship involved himself in “day to day decisions” about how the Aracoma Mine would be run, including an October 2005 note in which Blankenship told mine managers to ignore anyone who tells them their job is to do anything except “run coal.”
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