Two workers fall to their death at Mississippi Lime Underground Mine

Two workers fell to their death while scaling a roof at Mississippi Lime Co.’s underground mine in Ste Genevieve County, Missouri. The mine is controlled by Margaret Heckman. It was recently inspected by MSHA a month ago, and cited for numerous guarding and housekeeping violations. Since January of last year, it has received 20 citations under 30 CFR 57.20003(a), and 8 guarding violations under 57.14107(a). The mine was also cited in September of last year for failing to report an accident.

Vol21, No7

  • Accidents:
    • Radioactive-waste facility in salt mine was unready for underground fire (215)
    • Mountain Pass Mill reports second chemical exposure in a month (219)
    • Cumberland Coal loading dock worker injured in 12-foot fall (220)
    • Two contract workers hurt in man lift mishap at Barrick Gold mine (221)
    • Sideways Pressure blamed for nolo roof fall (221)
    • Stillwater Mine reports equipment fire (222)
    • Congressional Hearings:At four year anniversary of UBB, MSHA sees scant attention on Hill (222)
      • Criminal Proceedings:Tunnel Ridge foreman indicted for false certification (224)
        • Discrimination: Judge sides with miner in case MSHA refused to accept (225)
          • Fatalities:
            • Foreman fatally struck by pipeline at Virginia dredge (226)
            • Trainee dies in maintenance accident at Gibson Mine (226)
            • MSHA blames contractor-installed cable tray in fatal incident at LeBec Cement plant (228)
            • No Citations in drowning at Maple Creek impoundment (229)
            • Secretary and Bledsoe settle penalties where rib roll killed miner (231)
          • General News:Senator, mining engineer want interviews out of Blankenship’s You Tube video (231)
          • Highwalls:Commissioners lean towards affirming highwall violations at California operation (232)
          • Inspections:Impact events find unwarrantables in underground salt, surface coal operations (235)
          • Part 50 Reporting:Operators must file accident reports of contractors under their control (238)
          • Review Commission Orders and ALJ Decisions (239)

In Memory of the UBB Miners

1. Carl Acord, 52, roof bolter operator, 33 years mining experience, 44 weeks at UBB
2. Jason Atkins, 25, roof bolter operator, mining experience unavailable, 44 weeks at UBB. Youngest miner diagnosed with the beginning of black lung disease.
3. Christopher Bell, Sr., longwall utility, 36 weeks mining experience, 8 weeks at UBB
4. Gregory Brock, 47, electrician, 5 years mining experience, 5 years at UBB
5. Kenneth Chapman, 53, roof bolter operator, 28 years mining experience, 24 weeks at UBB
6. Robert Clark, 41, continuous miner operator, 11 years mining experience, 44 weeks at UBB
7. Charles Davis, 51, longwall foreman, 32 years mining experience, 8 years at UBB
8. Cory Davis, 20, underground apprentice, 20 weeks mining experience, 8 weeks at UBB
9. Michael Elswick, 47, beltman/fireboss, mining experience unavailable, experience at mine unavailable
10. William Griffith, 54, continuous miner operator, 36 years mining experience, 16 years 32 weeks at UBB
11. Steven Harrah, 40, assistant mine foreman, 9 years mining experience, 1 year 4 weeks at UBB
12. Edward Jones, 50, assistant mine foreman, mining experience unavailable
13. Richard Lane, 45, longwall foreman, 8 years mining experience, 36 weeks at UBB
14. William Lynch, 59, shuttle car operator, 34 years mining experience, 44 weeks at UBB
15. Joe Marcum, 57, continuous mine operator, 32 years mining experience, 16 years at UBB
16. Ronald Maynor, 31, scoop operator, 3 years 24 weeks mining experience, 3 years at UBB
17. Nicholas McCrosky, 26, electrician, 3 years mining experience, 1 year 24 weeks at UBB
18. James Mooney, 51, shuttle car operator, 32 years 24 weeks mining experience, 10 years at UBB
19. Adam Morgan, 21, underground apprentice, 8 weeks mining experience, 8 weeks at UBB
20. Rex Mullins, 50, headgate operator, 20 years mining experience, 6 years 40 weeks at UBB
21. Joshua Napper, 26, underground apprentice, employee of independent contractor David Stanley
Consultants LLC, 8 weeks mining experience, 8 weeks at UBB
22. Howard Payne, Jr., 53, roof bolter operator, 12 years mining experience, 11 years at UBB
23. Dillard Persinger, 32, shield operator, 2 years mining experience, 2 years at UBB
24. Joel Price, 55, shearer operator, 35 years mining experience, 2 years 24 weeks at UBB
25. Gary Quarles, 33, shearer operator, 14 years mining experience, 12 years 24 weeks at UBB
26. Deward Scott, 58, shuttle car operator, 38 years mining experience, 44 weeks at UBB
27. Grover Skeens, 57, maintenance foreman, 33 years mining experience, 14 years at UBB
28. Benny Willingham, 61, roof bolter operator, 34 years mining experience, 44 weeks at UBB
29. Ricky Workman, 50, shuttle car operator, 9 years mining experience, 8 years at UBB

1. Timothy Blake, 56, roof bolter operator, 37 years mining experience, 44 weeks at mine
2. James Woods, 54, electrician, 36 years mining experience, 44 weeks at mine

Heart-felt thanks to the Rescue Teams Who Were At UBB
•Alpha Natural Resources – Brooks Run/North and South Teams
•Alpha Natural Resources – Cobra Natural Resources Team
•Alpha Natural Resources – Foundation Coal/Rock Springs – Blue & Gold Teams
•Alpha Natural Resources – Foundation Coal/Kingston – Red & White Teams
•Arch Coal – Mountain Laurel Gold Team
•Bluestone Industries – Southern Pocahontas/Southern Safety Teams 1 & 2
•Consol Energy – Coal River Energy/Red & Blue Team
•International Coal Group (ICG) – Wolf Run/Blue & White Teams
•ICG – Beckley Pocahontas/Black & Gold Teams
•ICG – Knott County/White and Flint Ridge Teams
•Massey Energy – Southern WV Team
•Massey Energy – East Kentucky Team
•Massey Energy- Knox Creek Team
•Massey Energy- Cumberland Resources (2) Teams
•MHST – WV Team
•Mountaineer Mine Rescue Assoc. – Mountaineer 1 & 2 Teams
•MSHA – Mine Emergency Unit
•Patriot Coal – Eastern Assoc./Fed #2 Team
•Patriot Coal – Southern Appalachia
•Patriot Coal – Magnum Team
•Southern WV CTC – Task Force 1
•United Coal – Pocahontas Coal/Beckley

Four Years Later: Where’s the Beef?

Four years ago, 29 miners were killed at the Upper Big Branch Mine.

U.S. Attorney Booth Goodwin reached the largest settlement in mining history with the company that purchased Massey Energy, with a promise of no criminal charges against the company.

Goodwin did promise charges against individuals. Conspiracy charges.

So, at the four year anniversary, I would like to know is where is this “conspiracy” of which the government speaks?

Former Massey executive David Hugart was charged, and pleaded guilty on conspiracy charges — a “Kline Conspiracy” to be precise, even though he never even worked at the UBB mine. It takes two to make a conspiracy. Who are, or who is, the other? If Hugart was charged, then certainly the U.S. Attorney had enough evidence for a second indictment — or else there would not have been a conspiracy — correct?

From the DOJ Criminal Resource Manual (defining a Kline Conspiracy):

The general conspiracy statute, 18 U.S.C. § 371, creates an offense “[i]f two or more persons conspire either to commit any offense against the United States, or to defraud the United States, or any agency thereof in any manner or for any purpose….The statute is broad enough in its terms to include any conspiracy for the purpose of impairing, obstructing or defeating the lawful function of any department of government . . . (A)ny conspiracy which is calculated to obstruct or impair its efficiency and destroy the value of its operation and reports as fair, impartial and reasonably accurate, would be to defraud the United States by depriving it of its lawful right and duty of promulgating or diffusing the information so officially acquired in the way and at the time required by law or departmental regulation….

Hass, 216 U.S. at 479-480. In Hammerschmidt, Chief Justice Taft, defined “defraud” as follows:

To conspire to defraud the United States means primarily to cheat the Government out of property or money, but it also means to interfere with or obstruct one of its lawful governmental functions by deceit, craft or trickery, or at least by means that are dishonest. It is not necessary that the Government shall be subjected to property or pecuniary loss by the fraud, but only that its legitimate official action and purpose shall be defeated by misrepresentation, chicane or the overreaching of those charged with carrying out the governmental intention.

Right now, four years later, only one person has been charged and convicted of a conspiracy. But it takes at least two to have a conspiracy.

So, in the words of Clara Peller, “Where’s the beef?”

Twilight Zone

Here today ... gone today

Here today … gone today

There is a fifth dimension beyond that which is known to man. It is a dimension as vast as space and as timeless as infinity. It is the middle ground between light and shadow, between science and superstition, and it lies between the pit of man’s fears and the summit of his knowledge. This is the dimension of imagination. It is an area which we call “The Twilight Zone”.

Well here today… gone today? The screenshot above shows some of the interviews from Don Blankenships’s new “documentary” on what really happened at the Upper Big Branch Mine on April 5, 2010. The problem is, several of those interviewed including Senator Joe Manchin, Tom Hethmon and Gary Aho, never agreed to be part of Blankenship’s project. They thought they were participating in a documentary on mine safety.

As I started listening to the spliced-together- made-for-You-Tube video produced by Adroit Films, it sounded like I was listening to Rod Sterling narrate the 1960s series The Twilight Zone.

I am sure that while watching the file, Senator Manchin, Mr. Hethmon and Aho, the must have thought that is exactly where they were — The Twilight Zone — where reality gets twisted and sane people think they are crazy.

Senator Manchin has said he is ready to take legal action against Adroit Films for misleading him.

Mr. Hethmon and Mr. Aho told NPR they would not have participated had they understood what the Made-for-You-Tube video was about.

Shortly after Manchin threatened legal action, and as I was reading the individual interviews, they were being removed from You Tube. By the time 5 p.m. hit, the link was not functioning, but I had caught it in a screen shot.

I had just left the Twilight Zone.