Patton Boggs Insights - December 2012: Enforcement: $950,000 Settlement In Crandall Canyon Mine Accident

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The Crandall Canyon Utah coal mine operator agreed to pay $949,351 to settle civil penalties MSHA levied following an accident in 2007 that took the lives of . six miners, followed by the deaths of three additional personnel, including an MSHA inspector, during the recovery effort.

Mine operator Genwal Resources, Inc. and MSHA separately announced the settlement in late September. Press releases from the two sides reflected continuing disagreement about who was to blame for the tragedy. “In this settlement, Genwal Resources and Andalex Resources have acknowledged responsibility for the failures that led to the tragedy at Crandall Canyon,” said Solicitor of Labor M. Patricia Smith. Genwal countered by saying in its statement that the mine "was safe, a belief shared by MSHA, who approved the plan, and the mine engineering firm on which Genwal relied.”

Three other enforcement actions carrying $340,000 in penalties were vacated. The agreement also settles alleged violations at other mines run by the companies in the state. In those cases, the firms will pay $200,649. In March, Genwal pleaded guilty to two misdemeanor criminal charges related to the accident and paid a $500,000 penalty.