LONDON, Ky. (WSAZ) -- A federal judge has fined and ordered probation for an underground mining company in eastern Kentucky that violated mandatory safety and health standards.
During a hearing Monday, Manalapan Mining, of Harlan County, received three years probation and a $150,000 fine for allowing miners to work in hazardous conditions.
Federal prosecutors say the sentence is the largest criminal fine imposed on a mining company in the Eastern District of Kentucky in the last 20 years.
Miner David Partin was killed in an underground collapse at the company's P-1 Mine in Harlan County in June 2011.
Manalapan mine officials previously pleaded guilty to the MSHA violations.
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 mine officials 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.
“Manalapan and its co-defendants committed serious violations of federal law,” said U.S. Attorney Kerry B. Harvey. “These were not just paper violations. Manalapan’s actions put its employees at greater risk while engaged in an already dangerous occupation. "
“Roof falls are common hazards for underground miners, and we appreciate the efforts of the U.S. Attorney to hold accountable those who knowingly and willfully expose miners to such risks,” said Joseph A. Main, Assistant Secretary of Labor for Mine Safety and Health
As part of the probationary period, a probation officer is permitted to visit the mine to observe business practices. In addition, the company is prohibited from selling or transferring 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.