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MSHA News Release: [01/25/2006]
Contact: Dirk Fillpot
Phone Number: (202) 693-9406
Release Number: 06-138-NAT

MSHA Pursues Injunction Against International Coal Group after Company Denies Mine Access to UMWA

WASHINGTON - The U.S. Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) filed for an injunction against a subsidiary of International Coal Group today after the company prevented representatives from the United Mine Workers of America (UMWA) from entering the Sago Mine to assist in MSHA's investigation into the Jan. 2 accident there. MSHA recognizes UMWA representatives as a valid miners' representative.

"Some of the Sago miners requested that the United Mine Workers be their representatives for the purposes of this investigation, and they have a right to be there. Together, the state and MSHA made a commitment to the families that we would conduct a fair, open investigation, and we decided we needed to take this extraordinary step to keep that commitment," said Ed Clair, associate solicitor for mine safety and health.

Section 103(f) of the Federal Mine Safety and Health Act of 1977 provides that miners' representatives can accompany MSHA investigators, "during the physical inspection of any coal or other mine " for the purpose of aiding such inspection and to participate in pre- or post-inspection conferences held at the mine."

"The Mine Safety and Health Administration today filed for a temporary restraining order to prohibit the Sago mine operator from denying the UMWA access to the mine for the purposes of assisting MSHA in this investigation. MSHA is doing everything it legally can to enforce the rights of the miners' representative to participate in MSHA's underground investigation into the Sago Mine accident," Clair said.

Today's injunction action was filed in Elkins, W.Va. in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of West Virginia. Judge Robert E. Maxwell will hear the case at 4:00 p.m. today. If MSHA's petition is granted, miners' representatives will be able to participate in the investigation.

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