The Mine Safety and Health Administration is charging Peabody Midwest Mining’s Francisco underground mine in Gibson County with 11 safety violations, including one for an unsafe accumulation of loose coal that could cause an explosion and another citation related to structural problems that puts miners in danger of falling rock underground.
The mine has been cited 151 times over the last two years for the same issues. And this time around, a citation also exposed a structural problem with a misaligned belt that creates a friction too close to combustible coal dust.
Charles Thomas spent 34 years working in coal mines. Now he’s Deputy Administrator for coal mine safety and health. He says the inspection was unannounced which allowed the administration to view the mine in its true reality.
“Our role should be that as an auditor, but what I find out when, you know, we picked this mine for a particular reason because of their non-compliance, there’s something absent in their safety program,” he says.
A Peabody Energy spokesperson said in a statement,
“Safety is a core value at Peabody Energy and we are proud of Francisco Mine’s safety record, which is one of the best in the industry. Peabody Energy mines immediately address and resolve all safety issues.”
A West Virginia mine explosion in 2010 killed 29 coal minors. Since then, Federal impact inspections each month have stood to keep the work environment safe for workers. This was the Gibson County mine’s first impact inspection.