R&D Mine Coal Co. to Pay $905,825 in Fines Related to Fatal 2006 Explosion

The Federal Mine Safety and Health Review Commission has ordered R&D Mine Coal Co. Inc. to pay $905,825 in penalties for violations related to a fatal 2006 explosive detonation. The mine operator, which ceased operations following the incident, agreed to withdraw its contests for the violations and the full penalty judgment.

The Oct. 23, 2006, methane explosion killed miner Dale Reightler at the underground anthracite coal mine in Tremont, Pa. According to MSHA, the explosion occurred because the mine operator failed to comply with approved ventilation and roof control plans; engaged in poor blasting practices; assigned unqualified personnel to blasting work; and conducted improper preshift examinations.

The mine operator originally contested all 10 of the violations MSHA issued in 2007, of which six were assessed as flagrant, or "a reckless or repeated failure to make reasonable efforts to eliminate a known violation of a mandatory safety and health standard that substantially and proximately caused, or reasonably could have been expected to cause, death or serious bodily injury." These violations were the first cited under the agency’s flagrant violation provision of the Mine Improvement and New Emergency Response Act of 2006.

"We are extremely pleased about the outcome of this case. It is yet another reminder that mine operators must be held accountable for their failure to keep miners safe," said MSHA Administrator Joseph A. Main.

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