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Horizon Mine owners may contest MSHA safety citations

Sun Advocate Reporter

Horizon Mine is likely to contest some of the 34 citations for safety violations recently issued by the Mine Safety and Health Administration, a company spokeswoman said Wednesday.

Dodi Handy, speaking for mine owner America West Resources Inc., said that the hearings will be next year. Meanwhile, she added, the mine has gone 712 days as of Wednesday without a lost-time accident.

The citations arose from "blitz" inspections nationwide by MSHA in September. MSHA has conducted these sweeps as it has intensified its oversight since the disaster at Massey Energy's Upper Big Branch Mine in April. An explosion at the West Virginia mine killed 29 miners.

Of the 34 violations cited, 14 of them were listed on MSHA's Impact Inspection List as "significant and substantial," meaning MSHA considers them capable of causing sickness or serious injury to miners. That is 41.2 percent of the total violations. Nationally, the average S&S rate among 15 mines cited was 44.5 percent.

The Horizon Mine is off Consumers Road about seven miles from the junction at US 6 in west Carbon County.

Horizon markets its coal for electric generation. It employees about 100 workers underground and on the surface. The mine uses the room and pillar method, where columns of coal - pillars - are left in place to support the mine roof.

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