Saturday, February 19, 2011
EKB Capsule News...West Virginia...2-20-'11
- An Alpha Natural Resources subsidiary and a Massey Energy contractor have been cited by state inspectors for violations related to a pair of mining deaths. Alpha subsidiary Kingston Mining Inc. was cited in the death of William Roger Dooley, a 56 year old roof bolter killed on October 11, 2010, when a 6-foot-by-3-foot piece of mine roof fell on him at Kingston's Mine No. 1 near Mossy in Fayette County. Inspectors found Kingston was not complying with its state-approved roof control plan which required roof bolts to be spaced no more than 48 inches apart. The company had spaced them up to 59 inches apart. Kingston was taking deeper cuts of coal than allowed by the plan. Massey contractor Medford Trucking was cited in the death of Charles R. Qualls, a 32 year old truck driver killed on December 4, 2010, when his truck ran off a haul road at Massey's Republic Energy Surface Mine along the Kanawha-Fayette County line. Inspectors found three of the six brakes on the trailer attached to Qualls' truck were not working properly, and one of the six brake drums was worn beyond the manufacturers' maximum limits, while two of the six brake chambers were past due to be readjusted.
- West Virginia state employees, members of the West Virginia Public Workers Union UE Local 170, plan a rally in the Lower Rotunda of the Capitol at 10:00 A.M. Monday to call for pay raises, improved benefits and better working conditions, while also showing support for protesting public workers in Wisconsin. In addition to a pay increase, the Union is calling for implementation of caseload standards in the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources, the repeal of involuntary employee transfers, seniority rights to be extended to state workers and enforcement of the state's occupational safety and health laws for public workers. They will wear red bandanas, a symbol of the West Virginia miners' insurrection of 1921, as a sign of solidarity.
- Speaking from the John Amos Power Plant, Appalachian Power President Charles Patton said the rate increases which have hit customers in the past year will probably continue for some time, and much of the additional cost can be blamed on the EPA and its plans for regulation going forward. Appalachian has officially completed a a six-year, $2 billion investment to upgrade scrubbers to burn coal cleaner and meet federal environmental requirements. The initiative was completed with the startup of the John Amos Plant Unit 1 scrubber in Winfield. The effort is part of a $4.2 billion in environmental retrofits to address plant emissions set in motion in 2004 by its parent company American Electric Power. The state PSC granted one rate hike to the company last year, a second one is pending, and soon the company will seek a third. Patton says there are probably more to come as the EPA hits power companies with more regulation.
- In March 2009, Pocahontas County sheriff's deputy Robert Alkire II pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge of brandishing a weapon for firing his pistol in an unsafe manner after originally being charged with one count of wanton endangerment for a November 2007 incident. His certification as a West Virginia police officer was revoked in April 2010 by the state Law Enforcement Training Subcommittee. Alkire appealed the revocation, and administrative law judge John A. Grafton recommended he get his license back. J. Norbert Federspiel, the executive director of the Governor's Committee on Crime Delinquency and Corrections, took the law judge's ruling into account and ordered Alkire to serve a two-year suspension, which runs through April 2012. After that he can be employed as a law enforcement officer under certain conditions.
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