CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Murray Energy has agreed to pay more than $3 million to resolve safety violations at five coal mines in northern West Virginia that occurred under previous owner CONSOL Energy Inc., the U.S. Mine Safety and Health Administration said Wednesday.
The settlement resolves a total of 1,753 citations and orders issued by MSHA to the Blacksville No. 2, Robinson Run No. 95, Shoemaker, Loveridge No. 22 and McElroy mines prior to Murray Energy’s acquisition of the operations from CONSOL on Dec. 6, 2013. The mine safety agency had proposed civil penalties totaling about $5 million.
Janet Harner, an administrative law judge with the Federal Mine Safety and Health Review Commission, approved the settlement in August. While Murray Energy will pay less than the penalties assessed by MSHA, Harner’s order said the amounts are reasonable. The order said the settlement will avoid protracted litigation and allow the parties to move forward.
Murray Energy spokesman Gary M. Broadbent said the company was pleased to resolve the cases.
“Murray Energy was not involved in the events or circumstances in this case, in any way, as it assumed the defense of these actions after its acquisition of Consolidation Coal Company in December, 2013,” Broadbent said Wednesday in a statement.
The settlement brings to a close all related and outstanding litigation, Assistant Labor Secretary Joseph Main said in a news release.
“We believe this will allow Murray to focus its time and effort on current and future safety, health and compliance issues,” Main said.
Harner’s order did not provide details about the violations or when they occurred. The citations and orders “generally encompass violations that are often issued by MSHA in underground coal mines,” the order said, citing as examples combustible accumulations and ventilation and roof control plans.
On Monday, the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission announced that it had reached a $2.5 million settlement with Murray Energy over a massive fish kill in 2009.
The agency had filed a lawsuit alleging discharges from one of the former CONSOL mines entered Dunkard Creek and killed tens of thousands of fish and other aquatic life in West Virginia and Pennsylvania. Murray took over defense of the lawsuit after it acquired the CONSOL mines.
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