W.Va. mine has years of serious violations, officials say
By The Post's Steven Mufson, Kimberly Kindy and Ed O'Keefe:
The U.S. Mine Safety and Health Administration has ordered the evacuation of miners from parts of the Upper Big Branch coal mine 64 times since the beginning of 2009 because of safety violations, but federal regulators said the mine did not show the "pattern of violation" that would have allowed them to take harsher measures.
The orders to withdraw miners from the site, where at least 25 workers died in an explosion this week, included one for "imminent danger" because miners had to wade through 48 inches of water in one section, records show.
Tony Oppegard, a former federal regulator, said the number of safety violations is "off the charts." Oppegard, who represents miners dismissed for refusing to do unsafe work, added: "You're past the point of a red flag and you're really in a crisis situation." Last night, MSHA said that in the past year, the Upper Big Branch mine exceeded national averages in eleven citation categories and that for the most serious type of safety violation the mine had more than 11 times the national rate.
| April 9, 2010; 9:00 AM ET
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