The federal government, in an action that it says is the first of its kind, filed a lawsuit Wednesday to close a Kentucky coal mine until its owner can make it safe for workers.
The Mine Safety and Health Administration, filing in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Kentucky, seeks a preliminary injunction against the Freedom Energy Mining Co. mine No. 1 in Pike County. The mine is owned by Massey Energy Co.
"Freedom Energy has demonstrated time and again that is cannot be trusted to follow basic safety rules when an MSHA inspector is not at the mine," Joseph A. Main, assistant secretary of labor for mine safety and health, said in a statement. "If the court does not step in, somebody may be seriously injured or die."
Massey Energy also owns a coal mine in West Virginia where 29 miners died in an explosion April 5, the industry's worst disaster in 40 years. The mine had a spotty safety record before the explosion, with three deaths reported in the past 12 years.