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MSHA hits Crandall operators, engineers with record fines

Department of Labor Assistant Secretary Richard Stickler explains the fines leveled against Genwal and engineering firm Agapito.
Kevin Anderson delivers a prepared speech following Thursday's press conference in Price.
Richard Gates, District 11 Manger for MSHA, gives details surrounding the August 2007 mine disaster at Crandall Canyon.

The United States Department of Labor's Mine Safety and Health Administration levied a record $1.85 million in fines today against those they feel contributed to the August, 2007 mine collapses at Crandall Canyon.

In a press release issued by the DOL, it was reported that the operator of the mine, located in Emery County, was fined $1.34 million for violations that directly contributed to the deaths of six miners.

Agapito Associates Inc.(AAI), a mining engineer consultant, was fined $220,000 for faulty analysis of the the mines design.

MSHA then cited the mine operator for 11 additional noncontributory violations issued as the result of the investigation. The proposed penalty for those violations is $296,664, bringing the total proposed penalties against the mine operator to $1,636,664, a record for coal company fines, according to Department of Labor Assistant Secretary Richard Stickler. Crandall Canyon mine is operated by Genwal Resources Inc.(GRI), whose parent company is Murray Energy Corporation, according to the release.

Further data provided at the conference states, "The Aug. 6 collapse was not a natural earthquake but rather was caused by a flawed mine design. GRI and AAI's mine design was not compatible with effective control of coal bursts. The dimensions of pillars within the active workings, as well as dimensions of the adjoining barrier pillars, did not provide sufficient strength to withstand stresses."

Comments made by Stickler and Richard Gates, District 11 Manager, also alleged that for reasons that have never been determined, GRI mined cuts from the barrier in the south barrier section between crosscuts 139 and 142 intended to be left unmined to protect the bleeder system.

MSHA and other government officials met with families of the deceased miners and the media on Thursday for more than five hours, meticulously detailing their finding during the nearly year long investigation. Following the press conference, the family's attorney spoke to news crews explaining their approval of the MSHA investigation and reiterating their eagerness to receive further news from Depart of Justice and United States Attorney General.

Representing Genwall Resources Inc. was Kevin Anderson who read a prepared statement.

"Regrettably, this report does not have the benefit of all of the facts," said Anderson. "And appears to have been tainted in part by ten months of relentless political clamoring to lay blame for these tragic events."

A full review of the press conference will be detailed in Tuesday's Sun Advocate.

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