Jessica Lilly Published

McDowell mine gets second round of federal impact inspections


A mine in McDowell County is among several operations cited during impact inspections for safety violations last month. The federal Mine Safety and Health Administration announced the results Thursday.  

An impact inspection conducted at a JJ & E Coal Corporation’s mine in McDowell County resulted in: eight unwarrantable failure orders, one task training order, one imminent danger order and 36 citations.

While inspecting two conveyor belts, federal workers found accumulations of loose coal and coal fines up to 30 inches deep the entire length of the belts, which were 350 feet and 750 feet long.

These conditions at Horse Creek Mine No. 2 had been documented by the mine superintendent and mine manager during preshift/on-shift examinations every day for almost a week. Daily inspection records note that, since late July, each belt “needs additional cleaning, work in progress.” There was no evidence work had been done to clean these belts.

In a release MSHA chief Joe Main said these types of violations put workers in danger and would not be tolerated.

MSHA also cited the operator for violating roof support, ventilation, electrical and surface regulations. The mine was closed while the operator worked to implement a compliance plan and fix the cited issues.

Production was allowed to resume Aug. 13. This was the second impact inspection at this mine.

The monthly inspections are to monitor mines with poor compliance history such as high number of violations or closure orders; frequent hazard complaints or hotline calls and more. The impact inspection began in April 2010 following the explosion at the Upper Big Branch Mine killed 29 men.

According to a release federal inspectors issued 213 citations, 23 orders and one safeguard during special impact inspections in August. Inspectors visited nine coal mines and five metal/nonmetal mines last month in addition to regular inspections.