Safety Violations at Massey Mine Described as ‘Outrageous’

WASHINGTON—U.S. mining regulators found multiple safety violations at a West Virginia mine owned by Massey Energy Co., saying Tuesday that the conditions were “nothing short of outrageous” and accusing the company of failing to clean up its act after the 2010 explosion at its Upper Big Branch mine.

The Mine Safety & Health Administration said Tuesday it had issued 20 withdrawal orders and five citations to the Randolph Mine in Boone County, W.Va. The mine is owned by Massey Energy and operated by Inman Energy.

Administration officials conducted a surprise inspection Friday at the Randolph Mine, during which they found mine workers engulfed in coal dust and combustible materials in the form of loose coal accumulated in working areas.

They also found that ventilation curtains, used to protect workers against black lung, were not being used in some areas. On arriving at the mine, officials took control of phones at the mine office and guard shack to make sure mine workers didn’t alert their colleagues underground.

The conditions at the mine were “nothing short of outrageous” and posed a “serious risk” of fire and explosion, said Joseph Main, assistant secretary of labor for mine safety and health, in a statement.

“Despite the tragedy at Upper Big Branch last year…some still aren’t getting it,” Mr. Main said.

Massey Energy says it has disciplined several individuals as a result of the inspection findings.

“We were very disappointed by the results of the inspection,” said Massey General Counsel Shane Harvey. “We will take all actions necessary to ensure that our operations comply with the letter of the law.”