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W.Va. Cites 45 Violations After 2 Deaths At Mine

His death was the fourth in 14 days at West Virginia mines and prompted Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin to call for a statewide time-out for safety. The one-hour talks at some 500 operations have been going on since and are expected to conclude soon.

Such stand-downs are not uncommon in West Virginia. In April 2010, after an explosion at Massey Energy's Upper Big Branch mine killed 29 men, former Gov. Joe Manchin issued an executive order calling for a similar time-out. He also urged one in 2006, after another string of fatal accidents.

Investigators said Myles had been shoveling coal as a scoop operator gathered it up, but the scoop reversed directions, striking and crushing him.

The records obtained by The Associated Press show the West Virginia Office of Miners' Health, Safety and Training has also issued several violations for impaired visibility on scoops since the accident, although officials couldn't immediately say whether any of the scoops listed in the documents was the one that crushed Myles.

In several cases, however, workers had piled bags of pulverized limestone, buckets of bits and other supplies atop scoops. That could impair an operator's line of sight.

An inspector noted the practice of hauling supplies on scoops was the focus of a safety meeting the day before Myles died. Yet he found the same violations Feb. 20, while the mine was under a control order limiting it to basic maintenance and inspection functions.

Other violations written since the fatalities include: inadequate ventilation; insufficient rock-dusting to prevent explosions; accumulations of loose coal and explosive coal dust; improperly grounded electrical equipment; and trash holes filled with combustible materials.

Inspectors also noted that there was too little clearance between workers and moving equipment at the bottom of a supply shaft, and a ventilation alarm was not audible on either the mine's communication system or in the dispatcher's office.

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