Commission upholds Twentymile complaints
Craig — The case is over.
The Federal Mine Safety and Health Review Commission ruled Oct. 16 that Twentymile Coal Co. must revise its breathable air provision contained in its proposed Emergency Response Plan for the Foidel Creek Mine in Routt County.
Twentymile representatives chose not to exercise its right to stay the verdict, which would have allowed the mining company to form an appeal by Nov. 15.
A first appeal would have gone back to the commission, and an appeal after that would have gone to the U.S. Court of Appeals.
The ruling requires Twentymile to reform its ERP to allow for one of MSHA’s accepted methods of providing breathable air to underground miners in the event of a collapse.
Neither Twentymile nor its parent company, Peabody Energy, are susceptible to fines or other repercussions, MSHA spokesperson Amy Louviere said.
Foidel Creek management will not be penalized by MSHA or any other governing body, and the mine will not be subject to any kind of probation or enhanced review period, she added.
The 2006 federal Mine Improvement and New Energy Response, or MINER, Act required all national underground coalmines to submit ERPs for the event of a mine collapse.
MSHA approved “every aspect” of Twentymile’s Foidel Creek ERP, except the breathable air provision, Louviere said.
MSHA found there was a “reasonable possibility” miners could be trapped in Foidel Creek’s entrances following a collapse, according to an MSHA press release dated Oct. 24.
MSHA refused to approve the ERP until Twentymile added a provision to provide trapped miners breathable air at the mine’s entrances.
In an effort to make coal more competitive against natural gas and renewable energy sources, two of the nation’s largest coal companies, Peabody Energy and Arch Coal, have announced that they plan to combine assets in Colorado and Wyoming. Routt County’s Twentymile Mine would be managed under the new joint venture.