Floyd County mine company indicted for falsifying dust samples, lying to special investigator

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Published: Aug. 19, 2022 at 3:57 PM EDT
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FLOYD COUNTY, Ky. (WYMT) - Black Diamond Coal LLC. has recently been federally indicted on several charges.

In the indictment, it states that an employee in charge of collecting and reporting dust samples “knowingly and willfully certified false claims.” The employee was accused of leaving a piece of dust-sampling equipment outside of the mine, sampling fresh air, rather than underground with the mine operators.

The indictment also claims the employee lied to a U.S. Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) special investigator regarding the piece of equipment, stating that the employee said he was “having some trouble” with the dust sampler. This led to unsafe levels of dust inside the mine, putting operators in danger.

Wes Addington, Director of the Appalachian Citizens’ Law Center in Whitesburg, specializes in representing coal miners in similar cases, adding that it is much more common than what meets the eye.

“In this case, they were able to determine that the company allegedly was falsifying their records and, as a result, miners at that mine were being exposed to too much coal and rock dust,” said Addington. “This type of behavior has been common for far too long in the coal industry.”

As a result of this behavior, Addington said Black Lung Disease is becoming an epidemic and the severity of the disease in several cases is the worst it has been in 50 years.

“Many of them are dying at very young ages or requiring lung transplants and companies that cheat on their required dust sampling are directly contributing to this disability and death that we’re seeing,” said Addington.

This case, along with many others, has led folks to call for change in the mining industry at a federal level.

“If we’re going to end serious black lung disease for our miners, then we have to stop overexposing them,” said Addington, “And if their employers are doing that, they should be prosecuted.”

After reaching out to the owner of Black Diamond Coal LLC, the owner declined to comment on the situation at hand.

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