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Miner dies in Boone County

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(Updated to include statement by Alpha Natural Resources)

A Boone County coal miner died on the job today, the eighth coal miner to die in the U.S. this year and the second in West Virginia, according to the U.S. Mine Safety and Health Administration.

The fatality occurred at Alpha's Liberty Processing Plant, operated by Independence Coal Co., near the community of Uneeda. According to the West Virginia Office of Miners' Health, Safety and Training, the miner, a mechanic, was Clyde W. Dolin, 57, of Danville. Dolin was pronounced dead at Boone Memorial Hospital. 

He had 39 years mining experience, including 13 at the Independence plant.

According to the MSHA, the fatality occurred at about noon. A release from the agency said District 4 personnel responded to the accident where the miner reportedly fell three stories near the elevator in the preparation plant.

An investigation will ensue, and a 103k order to withdraw miners from the mine was issued.

Independence Coal is a legacy Massey property acquired by Alpha Natural Resources in its $8.5 billion buyout of the company. Massey Energy has since been criticized by national and state regulators for unsafe mining practices.

MSHA's mine data retrieval system shows the mine had not had a fatality since 2002, although 19 operator injuries had been reported at the mine in the same period. The operator received 27 104(a) citations from MSHA last year.

According to multiple reports, including a sustainability report released last week, Alpha has been in the process of bringing its "Running Right" safety programs to Massey Energy mines.

This is the second death to occur at an Alpha Natural Resources mine this year.

In March, Jeremy Sigler, 34, a section foreman at the underground Kingston No. 2 mine owned by Alpha, was struck by a rock underground while operating a continuous mining machine.

Coworkers' attempts to resuscitate Sigler were unsuccessful.

The death at Kingston was 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.

Last year, six coal miners died in West Virginia. About 21 coal miners died on the job in work-related accidents in 2011.

Thursday evening, Alpha Natural Resources released the following statement:

"BRISTOL, Va., May 17, 2012—An experienced worker at the Liberty coal preparation plant in Boone County, W.Va. suffered fatal injuries today in a fall at the plant. 

"Clyde Dolin, 57, a mechanic at the plant, passed away this afternoon after being transported from the Liberty plant near Uneeda, W. Va. to Boone Memorial Hospital.  He had a total of 39 years of experience in the coal industry.  Mr. Dolin is survived by his wife Pam, his daughter Brittany and his son Clyde. 

"Eric Salyer, president of Independence Coal, said: 'All of us are saddened by the loss of our friend and co-worker, Clyde Dolin.   He was a bit of an institution here as he had long service at the plant under its various owners.  We will miss him.  Our thoughts and prayers are with his family in this time of sorrow.' "

"Independence Coal Company, Inc. has operated the plant since 1994 without a fatal accident. Alpha acquired Independence Coal with its acquisition of Massey Energy in June 2011."


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