Mine Safety and Health Administration

Last month, a joint project by NPR and Mine Safety and Health News revealed that many of the nation's mines—coal and otherwise—operate despite owing large sums of money to the federal government for health and safety violations.

The West Virginia mine where two workers were fatally injured on Monday consistently violated federal mine safety laws, but federal regulators say they were unable to shut it down completely.

The Mine Safety and Health Administration confirmed that two workers were killed on May 12 when coal and rocks burst from mine walls at Patriot Coal's Brody No. 1 mine in Boone County, W.Va.


It’s never happened, but a leading official in the federal Mine Safety and Health Administration believes a fatality-free year in coal mining is achievable. 

Joe Main, who the Assistant Secretary of Labor for the Mine Safety and Health Administration was in Lexington for the Central Appalachian Regional Work Safety and Health Symposium. Just forty years ago, before the U-S Mine Safety Act, Main says a miner was killed every day. Last year, he says, 36 American miners died with 20 of them claimed by coal.