by Ellen SmithÂ
A supervisor was hurt in a roof fall December 10, 2008Â at a six-employeeÂ anthracite mine that owes more than $100,000 in delinquent civil penalties, MSHAÂ records showed.Â The foreman at S & M Coal Co.’s Buck Mountain SlopeÂ in Dauphin County, Pa.,Â met loose roof while he was working alone in a heading,Â according to a preliminary report. Mining height in the operation is aboutÂ 3-feet.Â He placed temporary roof jack about 5 feet 5 inches back fromÂ the face.Â At that point, however, a chunk of rock came down between himÂ and the roofÂ jack.Â The 5-inch thick slab, measuring about 3 feet by 2-feet, hitÂ him on theÂ shoulder.Â He felt his back “pop.”Â Â The injured miner shoutedÂ for help.Â Co-workers found him lying on his back, clear of the fallen rock.Â TheyÂ placed him on a stretcher and took him to the surface, where ambulance personnelÂ treated him and drove him to a hospital.Â MSHAÂ is investigating.Â
Last June MSHA investigated another roof fall injury at the same mineÂ [incident notice here] and cited three alleged contributory iolations, later assessing penalties ofÂ $1,688.Â The fines are listed as delinquent.Â
The miner in that accident sustainedÂ a concussion and a leg injury.Â Â The mine had not paid a civil penalty onÂ even one of some 90 violations cited and assessed by MSHA since 2002, the agencyÂ database indicated.Â All butÂ five penalties were past their payment deadline.Â Fourteen involved allegedÂ unwarrantable failures to comply.Â PenaltiesÂ described as delinquent totaled more than $108,000, dating from 2004 to 2008.Â Other unpaid fines of more than $3,000 from as far back as 1995 were marked asÂ closed-out without payment.Â MSHA listed as non-assessable 13 citations issued atÂ the mine in 2002 and 2003.
Mine owner Darryl Koperna took over theÂ operation in June 2006, according to the MSHA database.Â More than $98,000 inÂ delinquent penalties for 42 alleged violations had accumulated since that date.Â Eleven of the violations involved alleged unwarrantable failures to comply.Â The mine has produced since at least 1995 with several interruptions,Â the last during 2005-2006.Â Last year’s annual production of 3,646 tons was theÂ highest for the mine in that period.Â Based in Tower City, Pa., S &Â M Coal currently has only one operating mine.Â S & M’s Buck Mountain Slope isÂ different from the R&D Coal Co. mine in Schuylkill County also known as BuckÂ Mountain Slope, site of a fatal blasting incident in 2006.
Ellen Smith is the publisher and managing editor of Mine Safety and Health News.Â She has been covering mining issues since 1987 and has won 23 journalism awards for her reporting.Â