Cosco said that, on Thursday, Consol had been adding coarse refuse to the site to enlarge the impoundment as part of a plan approved by the DEP three years ago to expand the facility's ability to accept preparation plant waste.
The DEP's most recent inspection of the 1,300-acre site, conducted on Oct. 16, revealed no violations, agency records show.
Phil Smith, spokesman for the United Mine Workers union, said the two injured workers are salaried Consol employees, and the unaccounted-for miner a UMW member. Smith said bulldozers of this type typically would be equipped with two one-hour emergency breathing devices.
In the Greenbrier County incident, O'Dell was an employee of Alpha's Alex Energy subsidiary working at the Pocahontas Mine near Rupert. The mine is operated by White Buck Coal Co. Alex Energy and White Buck are among the companies Alpha acquired in June 2011 when it purchased Massey Energy.
Earlier this week, White Buck was in the news when federal prosecutors brought new charges against a former Massey executive who is cooperating in their investigation of the Upper Big Branch Mine Disaster.
Five years ago, White Buck and two of its employees pleaded guilty to criminal mine-safety violations, but federal prosecutors at the time said the problems went no higher in the Massey corporate hierarchy. Now, prosecutors allege there was a broad conspiracy at White Buck and other Massey mines between 2000 and 2010, to violate safety rules and cover up the resulting dangerous conditions.
MSHA chief Joe Main has warned that incidents where miners are crushed, run over, pinned by or struck by moving mining equipment are becoming all too common in underground mining. Since January 2010, at least 85 miners nationwide have been injured -- including eight who were killed -- in such incidents, MSHA has said.
Still, the Obama administration has yet to finalize a proposed rule to require "proximity devices" that would shut down equipment when miners get too close, and help prevent such injuries and deaths.
The White Buck death is the 18th U.S. coal-mining fatality in 2012, and the sixth in West Virginia.
Staff writer Travis Crum contributed.
Reach Ken Ward at kw...@wvgazette.com or 304-348-1702.