W.Va Mines Cited For Safety Violations

Federal regulators have cited the West Virginia coal mines where 14 miners died last month with a total of seven alleged safety violations in recent weeks, records show.

Meanwhile, with the death of a Kentucky coal miner today, the number of U.S. mining deaths this year has reached 20.

The U.S. Mine Safety and Health Administration cited the Sago Mine in Upshur County for three violations on Jan. 19 and Feb. 6.

Two allege that mine owner International Coal Group Inc. failed to comply with requirements for testing and maintaining electrical equipment and did not notify MSHA within 30 days of a change in the legal entity operating the mine. Details of the third citation were unavailable Thursday on MSHA's Web site.

Twelve miners died at Sago after a Jan. 2 explosion. Survivor Randal McCloy Jr., in a coma for weeks, is recovering at a rehabilitation hospital.

ICG officials have said their company inherited many of the mine's safety problems and have been working to correct the violations. ICG formally took control of the former Anker Energy mine in November but had been a management consultant there since June.

Calls Thursday to Ashland, Ky.-based ICG seeking comment about the new citations were not immediately returned.

MSHA inspectors also issued four citations at Massey Energy Inc.'s Aracoma Coal Alma No. 1 mine in Melville, the mine where two men died in a conveyor belt fire Jan. 19.

The citations, issued Feb. 2 and 9, alleged violations of rules concerning ventilation and explosives used in underground mines. A spokesman for Richmond, Va.-based Massey Energy did not immediately return calls seeking comment Thursday.

The Alma No. 1 mine received more than 90 citations in 2005.

The Sago Mine had 208 alleged violations of federal mine rules last year, including 18 orders shutting down parts of the mine until alleged violations were corrected. None were serious enough to close the entire operation.