LONDON, KY - An official from an underground coal mine operation in Harlan County admitted in federal court today he allowed miners to work in hazardous conditions.
Bryant Massingale, 52, of Cawood, Ky., pleaded guilty to failing to correct hazardous conditions and making false certifications.
Massingale, his employer — Manalapan Mining Company, Inc., and other mine officials were indicted for violating mandatory mine safety standards in February of this year.
Massingale, the mine foreman for the P-1 mine in Harlan County, admitted he intentionally failed to document safety hazards within the mine. He also did not correct the conditions to ensure miner safety.
Under Mine Safety and Health regulations, mine foreman are to preform daily inspections of the working sections of the mine and examine the equipment before allowing miners to work. In addition, foreman are obligated to record any hazardous conditions in the mine’s preshift report.
In June 2011, miners at the Harlan County mine worked under a roof and operated equipment that did not meet the Mine Safety Health Administration’s (MSHA) mandatory safety standards.
Massingale admitted he was aware of these hazardous conditions but did not correct them or record them in his signed and certified preshift report.
Massingale is scheduled for sentencing on January 10, 2013. He faces a maximum of five years in prison for the false certifications and up to one year for failing to correct hazardous conditions. However, a federal judge must consider the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and applicable federal statutes before imposing sentence.
Mine operator Jefferson Davis, 53, of Harlan, Ky., mine superintendent Joseph Miniard, 46, of Smith, Ky., and Manalapan Mining Company are scheduled for a trial on October 29.
Kerry B. Harvey, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Kentucky and Joseph A. Main, Assistant Secretary of Labor, Mine Safety and Health Administration jointly announced the indictment today.
The investigation was conducted by MSHA. The U.S. Attorney’s Office was represented by Assistant U.S. Attorney Patrick H. Molloy.