CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Federal regulators have given Consol Energy the go-ahead to try a complex diving operation aimed at locating the body of a United Mine Workers union member killed a week ago when a coal-waste embankment collapsed in Harrison County.
The plan approved by the U.S. Mine Safety and Health Administration also gives Consol permission to resume dumping coal slurry into the Nolan Run impoundment near Lumberport, even as efforts to find the miner's body continue.
On Saturday, Consol plans to try to find the body by sending divers into the impoundment through a 40-foot pipe. They'll try to enter the dozer and recover the body. If that doesn't work, the company will try building a small dam around the dozer, pumping coal waste out of that area, and then sending divers into the water.
MSHA spokeswoman Amy Louviere said a forensics dog brought to the property Thursday night "gave a positive reaction, indicating that the recovery team is working in the right location."
Crews have been searching for more than a week for the missing miner, whose bulldozer fell into the impoundment when part of the saddle dike collapsed shortly after noon on Nov. 30. Two Consol engineers and their pickups also ended up in the slurry, but the engineers escaped and were treated at local hospitals and released.
The incident at Consol's Robinson Run complex occurred the same day that an Alpha Natural Resources miner was killed when he was crushed between two pieces of mining equipment at an underground mine in Greenbrier County.
West Virginia leads the nation with seven of the 19 U.S. coal-mining deaths in 2012.
The Nolan Run incident has renewed discussion of citizen concerns about coal-waste impoundment safety in West Virginia.