After a record of serious violations, the U.S. Labor Department wants to shut down a Massey Energy Co. coal mine located in Pikeville, Ky., until it corrects the problems. This marks the first time that the federal government has moved to close a mine believed to be unsafe.
In filing for a preliminary injunction in U.S. District Court, the government cites persistently dangerous conditions in Massey Energy’s Freedom Mine No. 1 in Pike County. The action — the toughest enforcement action available to federal regulators — would shut down the mine until safety hazards are addressed and Massey Energy demonstrates it can operate the mine safely.
The federal suit filed Nov. 3 alleges that “mandatory health or safety standards” set by the Federal Mine and Safety Act of 1977 are being ignored at the eastern Kentucky facility. The Mine Safety and Health Administrator has issued over 1,900 citations and 81 orders against the company over the past two years. In a statement, Massey officials said they do not believe the mine is unsafe.