Environmental and Public Protection Cabinet
Investigation at Stillhouse Mining concluded
FRANKFORT, Ky. (Dec. 15, 2005) - The Kentucky Office of Mine Safety and Licensing (OMSL) Division of Inspection has concluded the fatal accident investigation into the roof fall that killed two miners at the Stillhouse Mining LLC complex in Harlan County.
Russell L. Cole, 39, and Brandon Wilder, 23, died Aug. 3, 2005, while engaged in retreat mining.
OMSL has issued seven citations to Stillhouse Mining for violations of mine safety law. Violations uncovered during the investigation include the following:
· The mining sequence and movement of mobile roof supports were contrary to the roof control plan.
· Cuts that were mined on the second shift were taken out of sequence and were in violation of the approved pillar plan, resulting in inadequate roof support.
· There was inadequate coordination and communication from mine management.
· The employees were not properly trained about the method of pillar extraction and the contents of the approved roof control pillar plan.
OMSL met today with families of the victims to review the report and explain findings of the investigation.
The deaths of Cole and Wilder followed the deaths of two other miners engaged in retreat mining - the extraction of coal pillars that support the mine roof - in the previous 13 months.
That prompted Governor Ernie Fletcher and Environmental and Public Protection Secretary LaJuana S. Wilcher to order a rigorous evaluation of regulations and statutes governing retreat mining. An outside, professional engineering firm is currently conducting this study.
"The deaths of Mr. Cole and Mr. Wilder were a tragedy for everyone, and our deepest sympathy goes to their families," Wilcher said. "It is one of the overarching goals of Governor Fletcher’s administration to create and promote a culture of safety in the work place, and the loss of a worker to death or injury is never acceptable."
Copies of the report are available under the Kentucky open records law . Requests for the report should be directed to Deven Brown at the Office of Mine Safety and Licensing by calling (502) 573-0140 or through e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.