ENVIRONMENT
07/02/2010 04:22 pm ET Updated May 25, 2011

Massey Energy Foremen Slapped With Criminal Charges For 2006 Fire, Mine Worker Dies In Accident At Another Mine

While state and federal investigations into the worst mining disaster in decades continue, mine owner Massey Energy was hit with more bad news this week.

Early Thursday morning, a 60-year-old mine employee, died in an accident at Massey's White Buck Coal Co.'s underground Pocahontas Mine. Leslie Fitzwater, spokeswoman for the West Virginia Office of Miners' Health, Safety and Training, said the electrician from Charmco was struck by a shuttle car, reports the Register-Herald.

Prior to this accident, the Mine Safety and Health Administration had already issued that mine more than 160 safety violations in this year alone, one-third of which were in the "serious violation" category.

Also that day, federal prosecutors concluded a four-year probe of a 2006 fire that killed two miners at the Aracoma Alma No. 1 Mine in Logan County, charging four Massey foremen with criminal mine safety violations. The four men were charged with failing to conduct required mine evacuation drills, an offense that carries a maximum sentence of one year in prison and a $100,000 fine, reports the Charleston Gazette.

Massey's subsidiary, Aracoma Coal Co., already made headlines in 2009 when it pleaded guilty to 10 mine safety crimes, agreeing to pay a $2.5 million criminal fine as well as $1.7 million in civil penalties to resolve citations issued by the U.S. Mine Safety and Health Administration following the fire. A fifth foreman, David R. Runyon, plead guilty to not conducting required evacuation drills and paying a $1,000 fine.