Fayette miner dead after accident - Business, Government Legal News from throughout WV

Fayette miner dead after accident

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A Fayette County coal miner lost his life over the weekend when a rib rolled.

A rib roll is when the ribs of the mine, or side walls crack and fall into the mine. Rib rolls are fairly common in coal mining, and not all necessarily harm the miner.

Jeremy Sigler, 34, of Pool, became the first to die in a coal mining accident this year in West Virginia. Last year, six coal miners died in West Virginia. About 21 coal miners died on the job in work-related accidents in 2011.

Four coal miners have died nationwide this year, two in Kentucky and one in Virginia.

Alpha Natural Resources owns the Kingston No. 2 mine, which is operated by Kingston Mining, where Sigler died. According to information from Alpha, Sigler was struck by material from the side wall during the evening shift on Saturday.

Co-workers attempts to resuscitate Sigler were unsuccessful.

"In this sad time our prayers and heartfelt condolences go to Mr. Sigler's family," said Charlie Bearse, president of Kingston Mining. "While the mine is idled we will work closely with the outside investigators to determine how and why the accident occurred. We are administering to his family's needs and providing counseling to his fellow miners at this time to help them deal with the loss of their coworker."

Sigler had about 10 years of underground coal mining experience and had been with Kingston since 2004, a release from Alpha states.

The Mine Safety and Health Administration has issued a closure order on the mine while federal and state officials investigate the accident. Alpha noted that Kingston was "fully cooperating" with the investigation.

The death is not the only incident at the Alpha-owned subsidiary in recent history. On Oct. 11, 2010, another coal miner died at the Kingston No. 1 mine due to a roof fall.

William Dooley, 56, a roof bolter, died due to what MSHA concluded was inadequate "management oversight of adverse roof conditions" and "that management failed to evaluate adequately the changing geological conditions and continued mining a 25-foot depth cut."

According to the MSHA mine information database, the Kingston No. 2 mine was assessed more than $700,000 in penalties from violations of the Mine Act in the past 10 years. It also received 968 citations for violations of the Mine Act, including 130 violations last year and 148 in 2010.

The Kingston No. 1 mine received 24 citations for violations of Mine Act in 2012, 183 citations in 2011, 121 citations in 2010 and 65 citations in 2009.

More than a half million dollars in fines have been assessed by MSHA at the mine since 2002, and has paid-to-date more than $300,000 in penalties.  

In comparison, the Upper Big Branch mine was assessed millions in penalties prior to the explosion and between 134 and 458 citations in the years leading up to the 2010 incident. Contrasting that, Alpha's Cucumber mine in McDowell County, winner of a number of recent safety awards, has not received a citation since 2006.

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