Insurers Sue for Fatal Coal Mine Collapse

SALT LAKE CITY (CN) – Seven insurance companies demand millions of dollars from Murray Energy Corp. for equipment still inside Utah’s Crandall Canyon coal mine after a fatal collapse. Intermountain Power Agency’s insurance firms claim Murray Energy, the mine operator, knew conditions in the mine were unsafe.

     Imploding walls trapped six miners 2,000 feet deep on Aug. 6, 2007. Ten days later, three rescuers were killed in a second collapse as they tried to reach the buried miners. Six other rescuers were seriously injured.
     Intermountain Power claims in Salt Lake County Court that Murray Energy knew of the dangerous conditions at the mine in Emery County, but ignored obvious signs of danger. It claims that conditions in the mine were not recorded in pre-shift logs, which Murray was required to make available to U.S. Mine Safety and Health Administration inspectors.
     Murray Energy “knowingly violated safety regulations and ignored and resisted MSHA’s enforcement of safety regulations,” according to the complaint.
     The miners were doing “retreat” mining – removing supporting pillars and mining the material as they retreated toward the entrance of the mine. This violated an approved plan by mining load-bearing pillars and mining floor coal in excess of what the plan allowed, according to the complaint.
     The insurers say the miners were removing ore from a barrier pillar, in violation of MSHA orders, just hours before the first collapse.
     The insurers are represented by Michael Skolnick with Kipp and Christian.

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