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Sago, Aracoma get more safety citations

Federal inspectors have found more safety violations at the Sago Mine and the Aracoma Alma No. 1 Mine, new government records showed this week.

In the last few weeks, the two mines were cited by the U.S. Mine Safety and Health Administration for a total of seven new violations, the records show.

MSHA inspectors cited the Sago Mine for three violations, including two Feb. 6, according to the agency data.

Both of those citations were issued during a special electrical systems inspection, according to the data.

One of the citations alleged an “unwarrantable failure” by International Coal Group to comply with requirements for testing and maintaining electrical equipment.

Another citation issued to the Sago Mine alleged that the company did not notify MSHA within 30 days of a change in the legal entity operating the mine.

ICG has said it formally took over the Sago Mine in mid-November. Other records show that New York billionaire Wilbur Ross, an ICG founder, has controlled the mine since at least 2002.

At the Aracoma Alma No. 1 Mine, MSHA inspectors issued four citations in the last two weeks to the Massey Energy operation.

Two citations issued Feb. 2 alleged violations of MSHA rules concerning explosives used in underground mines.

Two other citations were issued Feb. 9 for violations of mine ventilation rules.

Further details of the nature of the alleged violations were not available.

Dirk Fillpot, an MSHA spokesman, did not immediately respond to a request to provide copies of the actual citations.

MSHA posts basic information about mine safety enforcement actions on its Internet site, but requires Freedom of Information Act requests to obtain the more detailed paperwork.

Twelve miners died and another was critically injured following a Jan. 2 explosion at the Sago Mine in Upshur County. Two miners died in a Jan. 19 fire at the Aracoma Alma No. 1 Mine near Melville, Logan County.

To contact staff writer Ken Ward Jr., use e-mail or call 348-1702.


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