Engineering Firm Agrees to Pay $100,000 Fine for its Role in Deadly Utah Mine Collapse

Engineering Firm Agrees to Pay $100,000 Fine for its Role in Deadly Utah Mine Collapse

MSHA's investigation determined that the flawed engineering analysis by Agapito Associates resulted in inadequate mine design, with unsafe pillar dimensions, which contributed to the accident that killed six miners and three rescue workers.

The Mine Safety and Health Administration said it has reached a settlement with Agapito Associates Inc. for the firm's role in the August 2007 Crandall Canyon Mine disaster.

In the settlement agreement, Agapito Associates has accepted responsibility and has agreed to pay $100,000 for a high-negligence violation contributing to the mine collapse that killed six miners and three rescue workers at Genwal Resources Inc.'s underground coal mine in Emery County, Utah.

According to MSHA's investigation, the miners died when roof-supporting coal pillars collapsed in a catastrophic outburst that violently ejected coal over a half-mile area in the underground mine tunnels.

Ten days later, two mine employees and an MSHA inspector died in another coal outburst that occurred during rescue efforts.

The investigation determined that the flawed engineering analysis by Agapito resulted in inadequate mine design, with unsafe pillar dimensions, which contributed to the accident.

Genwal and its parent company, UtahAmerican Energy Inc., submitted their mining plan to MSHA based on Agapito's analysis. Lakewood, Colo.-based Agapito Associates Inc. "provides consulting services in geo-engineering, mining engineering and related disciplines," according to the firm's website.

"With this settlement, Agapito takes responsibility for its role in the tragic mine collapse at Crandall Canyon," said Joseph. Main, assistant secretary of labor for mine safety and health.

"Since this tragedy occurred, the agency has made a number of enforcement, administrative and regulatory reforms to improve the health and safety of the nation's miners, particularly in the area of roof control safety."

MSHA has submitted the settlement agreement to the Federal Mine Safety and Health Review Commission. If approved by the administrative law judge, the settlement will mark the end of legal proceedings launched by the federal government after the 2007 mine disaster.

In September 2012, Genwal Resources and Andalex Resources Inc., also owned by UtahAmerican Energy, agreed to pay nearly $950,000 in civil penalties for Crandall Canyon violations.

In addition, Genwal Resources pled guilty in federal court to two criminal misdemeanors for its willful violation of mandatory health and safety standards at the mine and agreed to pay a $500,000 fine.

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