Coal Tattoo

Federal inspectors have yet to get underground at Massey Energy’s Upper Big Branch Mine, but they’ve already hit the operation with another nearly two dozen citations — all in the last two weeks.

U.S. Mine Safety and Health Administration inspectors cited Massey’s Performance Coal Co. subsidiary for 23 different violations in a “spot inspection” that began May 14 and remains ongoing, according to the latest entries in MSHA’s online computer database.

Most of the citations related to violations MSHA inspectors found in the mine’s electrical systems — presumably problems that could be discovered without going underground — or to surface facilities at the Raleigh County operation.

Only three of the 23 citations were listed by MSHA inspectors as “significant and substantial.” No more serious enforcement orders were issued. But, complete details of these violations are not yet available. MSHA has yet to respond to my inquiry about this inspector or to a request for copies of the citations.

As of this morning, only about half of the violations were listed by MSHA as having been corrected.