The U.S. Department of Labor's Mine Safety and Health Administration has assessed $420,300 in fines against Andalex Resources Inc. for violations relating to potential fire and explosion hazards at the Aberdeen Mine in Price.
Two citations issued Oct. 26, 2006, and June 20, 2007, were assessed as "flagrant violations" under the Mine Improvement and New Emergency Response Act based on the operator's repeated violation of the same safety standard. Robert E. Murray controls Andalex Resources Inc., which operates the mine.
"Mine operators that repeatedly violate mine safety standards must be held accountable for their actions," said Richard E. Stickler, acting assistant secretary of labor for mine safety and health.
According to MSHA inspection records, the mine operator allowed excessive accumulations of hydraulic oil, and fine coal particles covered the hoses, electric conduit and tram motors on electric equipment. In addition, the mine operator allowed excessive accumulations of potentially explosive float coal dust and other combustible material to accumulate on a dangerously maintained conveyor belt. Such accumulations provide substantial fuel to propagate a mine fire.
These violations were cited during two routine regular safety and health inspections. A flagrant violation is defined as "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." Under the MINER Act, a civil penalty of up to $220,000 may be assessed for each flagrant violation. The two citations that were determined to be flagrant violations were assessed at $220,000 and $200,300.