The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

Latest News

December 21, 2013

W.Va. lawsuit seeks mandating mine-safety device

CHARLESTON — Two West Virginia agencies should force coal operators to install detectors that automatically shut down mobile machinery in mines when people get too close, according to a lawsuit.

Mountain State Justice lawyers filed an emergency petition Friday with the state Supreme Court. It said the state Office of Miners’ Health, Safety and Training and the Board of Coal Mine Health and Safety failed to require operators to install proximity detection systems to protect workers.

The lawsuit was filed on behalf of mine-safety advocate Marshall Justice of United Mine Workers Local 1503 in Boone County and Caitlin O’Dell, whose husband, Steven O’Dell, was killed in November 2012 when he was caught between a scoop and a continuous mining machine at an Alpha Natural Resources mine in Greenbrier County.

Board administrator Joel Watts told The Charleston Gazette ( he won’t comment on pending litigation. A mine office spokeswoman didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment Saturday.

According to the petition, state law mandates that the mine safety office and the board require the use of the best available safety systems to protect miners. It said the agencies could have prevented deaths and injuries by compelling mine operators to buy and install proximity detection systems. It said the current makeup of the Board of Coal Mine Health and Safety has led to a logjam.

Earlier this month the board voted to gather more industry and labor proposals on proximity detectors before they require mine operators to install the equipment. It marked the fourth straight meeting that members could not agree on whether to mandate the devices. Instead, the board voted to send the matter to a subcommittee to sort out industry and labor proposals. The subcommittee will meet Jan. 9.

“West Virginia’s coal miners have a right to go to work each day with the benefit of the strong health and safety protections they have been promised by the state of West Virginia for decades,” said Jennifer Wagner, a lawyer with Mountain State Justice. “The current structure of the board, which leads to total gridlock, eviscerates that right.”


Text Only
Latest News
  • Video: Meat market

    The price of beef has everyone in a stew these days, and it doesn’t stop with the “what’s for dinner” protein. Prices of pork and chicken are on the rise, as well.

    April 17, 2014

  • Child care in state lacking in quality

    Child care programs of minimum or unrated quality are watching over about 93 percent of West Virginia children enrolled in them, a report released Wednesday said.

    April 17, 2014

  • Still alive, TWV’S 54th season is all ‘Hatfields and McCoys’

    Although the schedule is a bit different than originally planned, Theatre West Virginia Act II is officially alive, with 17 scheduled showings of “Hatfields and McCoys.”
    The curtain will rise for its 54th season on July 11, and Manager Scott Hill said these 17 shows will be produced with the same quality theater patrons have come to know and love over the years.

    April 17, 2014

  • jobfair Spring Job Fair: 400 job seekers meet 22 employers

    More than 400 people came looking for a new job Wednesday at The Register-Herald’s Spring Job Fair at the Tamarack Conference Center.
    This year there were 22 area employers in attendance which gave potential hires more options in many different fields.

    April 17, 2014 1 Photo

  • Train derailment reported in Mercer County

    The derailment occurred in the Rock area of Mercer County, according to Norfolk Southern spokesman Robin Chapman.

    April 16, 2014

  • Report: High-quality child care lacking in state

    Child care programs of minimum or unrated quality are watching over about 93 percent of West Virginia children enrolled in them, a report released Wednesday said.

    April 16, 2014

  • Rahall raises $324k in WVa’s 3rd; Jenkins, $194k

    Democrat U.S. Rep. Nick Rahall raised almost $324,000 last quarter for his contested re-election bid, while GOP challenger Evan Jenkins banked about $193,500.

    April 16, 2014

  • State regional jails ban touching during visits

    Concerns about drug contraband have prompted a ban on regional jail inmates touching loved ones during supervised contact visits.

    April 16, 2014

  • Renew W.Va. car registration online

    State residents strapped for time got a break Tuesday when Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin and Acting Division of Motor Vehicles Director Steve Dale announced new DMV online options for renewing vehicle registration.

    April 16, 2014

  • Manchin says mines should speak out about coal

    The Democratic senator leading the battle against the White House’s strategy to fight climate change urged the mining industry on Tuesday to speak out about coal’s role in providing affordable, reliable electricity to the country to help combat strict new emissions rules for coal-fired power plants.

    April 16, 2014