Feds cite West Virginia mine for 2 deaths

Federal officials are blaming the owner of a West Virginia coal mine for a May incident that killed two miners.

The Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) cited Patriot Coal, parent of the Brody Mine, for failing to protect miners from hazardous conditions, not notifying workers about a similar incident days prior and allowing evidence regarding the incident to be destroyed.

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Kevin Stricklin, MSHA’s coal administrator, told the Charleston Gazette that the incident was preventable.

“I can’t be 100 percent sure, but everything I’ve seen would indicate that neither of these individuals would have died,” Stricklin said.

Eric Legg and Gary Hensley were killed May 12 when coal and rock material burst suddenly from a mine wall, the Gazette said.

“The accident occurred because the mine operator failed to recognize areas with potential [outburst] conditions, and to develop and implement a method of mining suitable to mine safely and control those conditions,” MSHA wrote.

A report by state safety enforcers last week similarly blamed Patriot Coal for the incident and for violations related to the previous incident days earlier.

In that incident, which wasn’t previously reported to officials, a similar outburst caused a miner to be partially buried in coal, the Gazette said.