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Monday, January 12, 2015

Regulators Take Action Against Delinquent Mines

Today's post is shared from

Two weeks after NPR and Mine Safety and Health News reported nearly $70 million in delinquent mine safety penalties at more than 4,000 coal and mineral mines, federal regulators suddenly revived a rare approach to enforce mines to pay.

They cited a delinquent coal mine for failing to pay $30,000 in overdue penalties and gave the mine's owner two weeks to pay. He didn't, so the Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) shut down the mine. Within 40 minutes, mine officials agreed to a payment plan and the mine reopened.

It sounds like a straightforward and tough response, but it might not stand up to legal scrutiny. Federal law doesn't give MSHA the authority to shut down mines simply because they haven't paid their safety penalties. But the agency can force a mine to fix safety violations. In this case, the failure to pay penalties is considered an unfixed violation.

Response From the Mine Safety And Health Administration

The following is the agency's response to the NPR/Mine Safety and Health News series on Delinquent Mines.

Mine operators have the primary responsibility under the Mine Act to prevent the existence of unsafe and unhealthful working conditions. When they fail in their responsibility for compliance with the Act and its standards and regulations, MSHA uses the enforcement tools it has at its disposal. As a result of, and immediately after the Upper Big Branch Mine disaster, those tools now include an enhanced enforcement program to provide a more effective means...

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