Harlan County Mining Company Sentenced For Violation Of Health And Safety Standards
LONDON, KY - A federal judge imposed a fine and ordered a period of probation for a Harlan County underground mining company, which violated mandatory safety and health standards established by the Mine Safety Health Administration (MSHA).
According to a sentencing document filed with the court on Monday, Manalapan Mining Company, Inc., received three years of probation and a $150,000 fine for allowing miners to work in hazardous conditions.
The sentence represents the largest criminal fine in the last 20 years imposed on a mining company in the Eastern District of Kentucky (district includes 67 counties). Mine officials previously pleaded guilty and were sentenced for their roles in the case.
As part of the probationary period, a probation officer is permitted to visit the mine to observe business practices. In addition, the conditions prohibit the company from attempting to hide assets. Specifically, the company can’t sell or transfer assets, without first notifying the probation officer, until the fine is paid off. Manalapan will pay $5,000 per month over a three year period to satisfy the fine. If the company fails to make payments, probation officers can conduct unannounced examinations of the company’s finances and records.
According to court records, from June 11, 2011 until June 29, 2011 the defendants allowed miners at the Harlan County P1-mine to work under roof conditions and operate electrical equipment that did not meet MSHA’s mandatory safety standards. Specifically, miners used mobile bridge carriers without a canopy, which is needed to protect miners from roof falls. Court records state that the canopies were available but never installed.
Under MSHA regulations, certain mine officials are required to perform daily inspections of the working sections of the mine and examine the equipment before allowing miners to work. After inspecting the mine, these officials are required to make written records of any hazardous conditions and address safety issues prior to the miners working in those sections of the mine.
Two of the defendants admitted they intentionally failed to document the hazardous working conditions in the mine and falsely signed and certified records stating that there were no hazardous conditions.
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 sentence today.
The investigation was conducted by MSHA. The case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Patrick H. Molloy and Jason Grover with the Department of Labor.