Two killed in W.Va. mine under federal scrutiny

Two miners were killed Monday in a West Virginia mine that federal safety officials flagged last year for a “pattern of violations.”

The miners died due to a ground failure at about 8:30 p.m. at Patriot Coal’s Brody Mine No. 1 in Boone County, the Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) said. The Charleston Gazette identified the miners as Eric Legg and Gary Hensley, and said the incident was caused by pressure from rock and coal materials injected from above.

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Brody No. 1 received the “pattern of violations” designation from MSHA in October, after the mine racked up more than 250 “significant and substantial” violations in the year that ended Aug. 31, the Gazette said. Injuries during that period resulted in nearly 1,800 lost workdays.

An MSHA audit the year before concluded that the mine did not report 29 injuries. Patriot said at the time that it acquired the mine in December 2012 and made significant safety improvements.

After the Monday deaths, five coal miners have died in 2014 in the United States, MSHA said. They were the first West Virginia coal mine deaths since mid-January, the Gazette reported.