MSHA warns mine operators of potential POV status

The Mine Safety and Health Administration in November warned 13 mines that they face a potential pattern of safety and health violations.

The mines are the first to be put on notice since MSHA began reforming its POV process in September. According to an MSHA press release, Upper Big Branch Mine-South in West Virginia also met POV criteria, but action has been postponed until officials finish investigating the fatal April explosion.

The agency has been criticized in the past for failing to exercise its POV authority to close unsafe mines. However, in November, MSHA took the unprecedented step of asking a court to temporarily shut down a Kentucky mine for persistent violations. The mine's owner, Richmond, VA-based Massey Energy Co., this week announced plans to close the mine and reassign its resources to other facilities. Massey also owns Upper Big Branch.

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