MT. MORRIS – The state Department of Environmental Protection issued an order Thursday prohibiting mining at 4 West Mine in areas where workers could encounter conditions similar to those where a rock fell and killed a miner last month.
The order will prohibit mining in about 25 percent of the mine, DEP spokesman John Poister said.
“We’re very concerned about the conditions of the mine wall,” he said.
Jeremy R. Niece, 31, of Danville, W.Va. was killed in the Dana Mining Co. mine Jan. 16 when a large rock fell from the wall, or rib, of an underground mine passageway and crushed him.
The 4 West Mine mines the Sewickley coal seam which lies above the Pittsburgh coal seam. Areas of the 4 West Mine that could be prone to rib problems are above areas in which the Pittsburgh seam was earlier mined, Poister said.
Workers are currently mining above Consol’s former Humphrey Mine, he said.
DEP mining officials met with Dana representatives last week and discussed what they expected the company to do to address the problem, Poister said. The company responded with a plan that DEP determined was inadequate to address the issue and as result DEP issued the restrictions, he said.
Poister said the order will remain in effect until the company presents a plan that adequately addresses the problem.
DEP also has asked the company to complete better mapping to show where the former Humphrey Mine’s underground workings are in relation to 4 West.
“We just think when a miner goes to work in the morning, he should be able to go home at night,” Poister said.
Brian Osborn, senior vice president of operations for Mepco Inc., of which Dana Mining is an affiliate, said the company had received the order and is reviewing it to determine what has to be done to meet DEP’s requirement.
This was the second mine fatality at 4 West in less than seven months. The last fatality on June 27 took the life of John William Kelly, 55, of Albright, W.Va. Kelly was fatally injured when a heavy, metal airlock door and its frame, used to control mine ventilation, fell on him.