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The U.S. Department Of Labor Proposes Nearly $1.2 Million In Civil Penalties After Finding An Illinois Mine Operator ‘Tried To Conceal An Underground Fire, Which Endangered Miners And Misled The Probe’

Published Tuesday, June 21, 2022
by USDOL News
The U.S. Department Of Labor Proposes Nearly $1.2 Million In Civil Penalties After Finding An Illinois Mine Operator ‘Tried To Conceal An Underground Fire, Which Endangered Miners And Misled The Probe’

(WASHINGTON, D.C.) – The U.S. Department of Labor’s (USDOL) Mine Safety and Health Administration has proposed nearly $1.2 million in civil penalties to M-Class Mining LLC, a Macedonia, Illinois Coal Mine Operator after the MSHA cited the operator for continuing to operate the mine without evacuating Miners with a fire underground and failing to notify the MSHA of the fire, which broke out on a longwall section on August 13th, 2021.

Late on the morning of August 14th, 2021, after learning of the unextinguished fire through an anonymous complaint, the MSHA issued an order to withdraw all Miners from the mine and began an accident investigation - which found the operator allowed continued coal production and did not take immediate actions to protect the safety and health of the Miners.

Specifically, MSHA Inspectors determined M-Class Mining LLC failed to follow the approved Mine Emergency Evacuation and Firefighting Program and evacuate the Miners, as well as not notifying MSHA within 15 minutes of the fire’s start as the law requires and for failing to fully comply with Federal orders to withdraw Miners from the mine.

“M-Class Mining LLC deliberately jeopardized the lives of the very Miners it was responsible for protecting and violated numerous important safety and health standards in the process,” Assistant Secretary for Mine Safety and Health Chris Williamson said. “The fact that this operator continued business as usual while Miners underground had no idea there was an ongoing fire hazard more than justifies the civil penalties that we propose.”

MSHA issued 14 citations to the M-Class mine, including 10 related to the operator’s reckless disregard for the miners’ safety and health.

Two of the 10 proposed citations are flagrant: for the operator not evacuating the mine when the fire was located and for allowing Miners to work underground without being tracked by the mine tracking system.

A flagrant violation may be assessed the highest penalty allowed by law.

MSHA has assessed $1,165,396 in proposed penalties for the violations.

M-Class Mining LLC has 30 days to pay or contest the violation or penalties to the Federal Mine Safety and Health Review Commission.

To Directly Access This Labor News Story, Go To: www.dol.gov/newsroom/releases/msha/msha20220617

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