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MSHA News Release: [01/26/2006]
Contact: Dirk Fillpot
Phone Number: (202) 693-9406
Release Number: 06-151-NAT

MSHA Applauds Court Decision Granting Injunction
MSHA Defends UMWA Rights as Miners' Representative in Sago Investigation

WASHINGTON - David G. Dye, acting assistant secretary of labor for mine safety and health, applauded the decision by Judge Robert E. Maxwell of the U.S District Court for the Northern District of West Virginia granting an injunction against a subsidiary of International Coal Group (ICG) today. The U.S. Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) sought an injunction against the mine operator of the Sago Mine, Wolf Run Mining Company, after miners' representatives from the United Mine Workers of America (UMWA) were denied access to the mine on Wednesday to accompany MSHA officials investigating the Jan. 2 accident at the Sago Mine.

"MSHA will take every step to protect the miners' interest in a fair and open investigation into this tragic accident - including ensuring that the UMWA can participate fully as the miners' representative. We made a commitment to the miners and the families on this. We are elated that the court agreed that the rights of miners' representatives must be protected," Dye said.

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."

MSHA recognizes UMWA representatives as a valid miners' representative at the Sago Mine.

An explosion at the Sago Mine in West Virginia on Jan. 2 took the lives of 12 miners. One miner survived the explosion and remains hospitalized. MSHA is investigating the cause of this accident.

Following Judge Maxwell's decision today, miners' representatives will be able to participate in the underground investigation. MSHA expects to enter the Sago Mine to begin its underground investigation this afternoon.

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