Sydney Boles of Ohio Valley Resource recently published a radio story and accompanying article about an audit that looked into the safety records of coal mines. Based on her findings, it is clear that mines that have been changed hands are more likely to have safety violations. Below is an excerpt from the interview, featuring ACLC’s executive director, Wes Addington:

The report included coal mines and other types of mines MSHA categorizes as “metal and non-metal” mines, which makes it difficult to say what the data means specifically for Appalachian coal mining. Wes Addington, executive director of the Appalachian Citizens Law Center, said coal mining is more dangerous and more deadly than other forms of mining, so including other data obscures issues unique to coal mines.

“There are so many metal/non-metal operations that it skews the information for coal operations in a way that makes the data not very useful,” Addington said.

The audit also concluded that MSHA did not consider a mine operator’s record of past safety fine debts when issuing identification for a new mine.

“What’s weird about the report is they want to come to the broad conclusion that the system of fines doesn’t affect safety,” Addington said. “And yet, towards the end, they want to make the point that MSHA should look at not issuing new mine IDs to companies that don’t pay their fines.”

Read or listen to the full story here.