Second WV coal miner dies this week - WOWK 13 Charleston, Huntington WV News, Weather, Sports

Second WV coal miner dies this week

Posted: Updated:

Another coal miner is dead this week, the second this week to die from mining equipment-related injuries.

According to the Mine Safety and Health Administration, the miner died at about 9:20 p.m. Thursday at the Affinity Coal mine in Raleigh County. The miner has been identified as Edward L. Finney, 43, of Bluefield, Va.

A scoop bucket full of trash was being moved onto a hoist when the hoist moved. Those on the scene reported to MSHA that the hoist picked up the scoop and crushed the victim.

Officials with United Coal Company released the following statement about the fatal acc indent at the Affinity Mine in Raleigh County.

"At approximately 9:20 p.m. on Thursday, Feb. 7, 2013 an employee at Pocahontas Coal Company's Affinity mine was fatally injured near the service elevator of the mine. The employee was a scoop operator in underground operations. " ... The employee's name is being held until the family can be notified. Our thoughts and prayers are with them at this time."

Earlier this week,  Brandon Townsend, 34, of Delbarton died at Midland Trail Energy's Blue Creek preparation plant in Kanawha County. Officials said a piece of hydraulic machinery exploded, killing the miner and injuring another.

According to MSHA records, the Affinity mine had not recorded any fatalities dating back to at least 2002, the oldest records displayed in the Mine Data Retrieval System's summary of the mine.

The mine has reported about nine injuries that resulted in days lost, but those injuries were not fatal.

The mine did receive three as of yet not assessed safety citations Monday. Those citations were related to violations of maintenance of protection from roof, face and mine rib falls and for maintenance of escapeways. Two were considered what MSHA calls "significant and substantial violations."

In the mine's last assessment for potential pattern of violations program conducted Jan. 15, MSHA noted there had been more than 50 substantial and serious violations in the past 12 months.

Last year, on Feb. 13, inspectors targeted the mine for an "impact inspection." Those inspections have been conducted by the agency since the Upper Big Branch explosion in 2010 that killed 29 miners.

During that impact inspection, Metinvest employees illegally provided advance notice of inspectors' arrival. Employees were ordered to undergo training as a result of the citation for providing advanced notice.

"It can obscure actual mining conditions by giving mine employees the opportunity to alter working conditions, thereby inhibiting the effectiveness of MSHA inspections," MSHA leader Joe Main said in announcing the impact inspection results at the time.  "Furthermore, it appears that current penalties are not sufficient to deter this type of conduct."

The mine is owned by Ukraine-based Metinvest and is located in Sophia, just outside of Beckley. The mine was reopened in 2011. When the reopening of the mine was announced, officials said it would provide about 250 jobs and represented an approximate $100 million investment.

The United Coal Company is Metinvest's North American wing. That company is ranked sixth in the nation for production of metallurgical coal. UCC estimates it is one of the top five metallurgical coal reserve holders in the Appalachian region.

Affinity Coal was established as UCC's third West Virginia subsidiary.

Federal mine safety investigators are looking into Thursday's incident.