Coal Tattoo

Word came down this evening that the  Joe Main’s Mine Safety and Health Administration lost their major legal fight trying to — for the first time ever — put a coal mine on a “pattern of violations” status for increased enforcement actions.

Readers will recall that the case of MSHA’s battle with Massey Energy subsidiary Knox Creek Coal’s Tiller No. 1 Mine was the subject of a major piece in The Washington Post last week.

But according to a news release put out this evening by MSHA, Administrative Law Judge David Barbour sided with Massey, ruling that only 19 of the 29 violations agency officials tried to use to establish a violations pattern were “significant and substantial” — not enough to meet MSHA’s internal screening criteria for determining a pattern.