MSHA reaches settlement in Freedom Energy case

January 11, 2011

Arlington, VA – The Mine Safety and Health Administration on Jan. 5 announced a settlement in the landmark lawsuit to close a Massey Energy mine.

The settlement comes less than two months after MSHA filed a motion (.pdf file) for a preliminary injunction against the Freedom Energy Mine No. 1 in Pike County, KY. The move marked the first time MSHA had ever used its authority to seek a court order to shut down mines with persistent safety problems. Soon after, Massey announced plans to permanently idle the mine.

Under the settlement, Freedom Energy must comply with a recovery plan to protect workers who dismantle and remove mine equipment. The highest-level management official also must be available each day to ensure safe working conditions.

Secretary of Labor Hilda L. Solis called the settlement "a strong indicator about the direction MSHA is taking" under administrator Joseph A. Main.