Thursday, December 23, 2010

 

Pikeville Judge Denies Massey Motion

KENTUCKY....
In a ruling filed Wednesday in U.S. District Court in Pikeville, Judge Amul Thapar denied a motion by Freedom Energy and Sidney Coal Company to dismiss court action to close a Pike County mine operated by subsidiaries of Massey Energy. Freedom Energy had argued that because the Department of Labor hasn't placed the mine on "pattern of violations" standing through established administrative procedures, it is illegal to ask the courts to do so. Massey attorneys argued that Congress, in describing a pattern of violations in two sections of the Mine Act, intended for the administrative procedure in one section to be exhausted before the court action described in the second section is used. However, Thapar said "the court can eliminate the 'continuing hazard' without trudging through a series of administrative procedures." Thapar said the Department of Labor can come to the courts when it has been determined that there is a continuing hazard.

On November 19th, MSHA sent Sidney Coal operators a letter placing the mine on "potential pattern of violations." The company has 90 days to respond to the letter. On December 17th, Thapar said a preliminary injunction by the court doesn't permanently close the mine but might maintain the safety of miners while giving the administrative action time to proceed. A trial on federal safety regulators' motion for a preliminary injunction to close the mine is scheduled to start January 4th.



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