Features, Health and Safety, Law and Politics, National

8 Coal Company Officials Indicted for Lying About Dust Levels

July 19, 2018

By Steve Wishnia and Neal Tepel

LOUISVILLE, Ky.—Eight former supervisors and safety officials of a now-defunct Kentucky coal company were indicted July 11 on federal charges that they illegally concealed how much black-lung-causing dust miners were being exposed to. The indictment said the eight had conspired to hide Armstrong Coal’s “ongoing, systemic, and pervasive violation of mandatory health and safety standards” from the federal Mine Safety and Health Administration. Prosecutor Russell Coleman said the defendants had ordered workers at two mines to wear dust-detection devices for only part of their shifts, and then submitted phony records with the deceptively low readings that resulted. One supervisor at the Parkway mine in central Kentucky, the indictment alleges, told others to do whatever it took to “make the pumps come in” with coal-dust levels below the federal standard of 1.5 milligrams per cubic meter of air. “There’s been cheating ever since I’ve been there,” Parkway miner Mike “Flip” Wilson told the Huffington Post in 2014. He retired in 2015 after being diagnosed with pneumoconiosis, black lung, and became a volunteer safety inspector, a rare thing at nonunion mines. Read more

July 19, 2018

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