The Seng Creek Mine is a much smaller operation, employing about 90 workers and producing 260,000 tons of coal in 2009. The mine's injury rate so far in 2010 has been nearly three times worse than the national average, MSHA data show.
In a prepared statement, Massey acknowledged problems at the mine and said "this situation was very frustrating and totally unacceptable."
"The president of the company had just had a meeting with all his superintendents the day before this incident in which he again covered the fact that the company expects its miners to mine coal in accordance with the law," Massey said through its public relations firm. "The foreman in charge of the section was told the same thing by his superintendent right before he went underground the day of the violations.
"This training was simply violated," Massey said. "We will redouble our efforts."
Massey said the foreman and two hourly workers were fired. Nine other miners were suspended for three days. Massey said company officials "appreciate MSHA's blitz for uncovering conduct that we did not uncover ourselves. We welcome any effort -- whether by MSHA, the state or Massey -- that uncovers such conduct."
Also Thursday, Massey continued its criticism of MSHA's Upper Big Branch investigation, alleging the federal agency wrongly blocked one of the company's experts from going underground at the mine.
Reach Ken Ward Jr. at kw...@wvgazette.com or 304-348-1702.