SALT LAKE CITY (CN) – An owner of the Crandall Canyon Mine wants information about a collapse that killed six miners and three rescuers in March 2007 reclassified as private, after the mine’s co-owner released records to a newspaper reporter.
Plaintiff Andalex Resources sued the Utah State Records Committee and the Intermountain Power Agency, a state agency, in Salt Lake County Court.
Andalex says it delivered the documents to the mine’s co-owner, Intermountain Power Agency, as part of a confidential business partnership, which is exempt from disclosure under the Government Records Access and Management Act.
Intermountain then classified the records as public rather than private, removing the “blanket of protection” under the joint operating agreement, the complaint states. The records include safety and injury protocols, roof and water control plans, and citation logs from the Mine Safety and Health Administration, which is investigating the mine tragedy, the complaint states.
Andalex and the mine’s operating agent, Genwal Resources, fear that release of profit and operating information and details on coal quality will cause customers to seek lower coal prices and give competitors an edge in negotiations. They claim the public interest will be satisfied by the Mine Safety and Health Administration’s report.
The Salt Lake Tribune reporter who sought the records intends to call attention to mine owners and individuals, not government officials, making the request fall outside the boundaries of “public interest,” the complaint states.
The Tribune reporter has used meeting minutes obtained in California to publish a story on the mine owner’s alleged knowledge of problems leading to the deadly collapse. The state has denied The Salt Lake Tribune access to Department of Labor proceedings.
Andalex and Genwal also say that the records release will chill the business relationship between them and Intermountain, a government agency.
The plaintiffs want the records reclassified and kept private.
Kevin Anderson of Fabian Clendenin represents the plaintiffs in Salt Lake County Court.