Suit demands mines install additional safety tools

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 said he won’t comment on pending litigation.

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.

 

Hammer attack: Police in Charleston say two juveniles have been charged in a hammer attack outside the Charleston Town Center mall. The attack occurred on the Court Street side of the mall Thursday night.

Police say Ryan Lynch of Charleston underwent surgery for a head injury at Charleston Area Medical Center’s General Hospital.

Police say Lynch knew the suspects, who were charged in a juvenile petition with malicious wounding. Their names were not released.

A search is on for three other people who were involved in the attack.

 

PRINCETON

Islamic center vandalized: A federal prosecutor says his office has joined the Mercer County Sheriff’s Department in an investigation into vandalism at an Islamic worship center near Princeton.

U.S. Attorney Booth Goodwin said Friday that the vandalism at the Islamic Society for the Appalachian Region “violates our country’s most sacred values.”

Mercer County sheriff’s Deputy E.P. Parks said the vandalism involves anti-Islamic sentiments spray painted. Islamic center leader Abdul Piracha says the slurs were found on the worship center’s exterior and on a sign.

 

ARBOVALE

Protection in Pocahontas: A 384-acre tract of farmland in Pocahontas County is being protected through a conservation easement negotiated with the West Virginia Land Trust.

The tract is bordered by the Monongahela National Forest and the National Radio Astronomy Observatory at Green Bank.

Officials say the easement allows the Hevener family to continue the family tradition of farming the land for generations to come, while protecting the tract from certain types of future development.

 

MORGANTOWN

New degree at WVU: West Virginia University’s Board of Governors has OK’d a new degree program in hospitality and tourism management to serve one of the state’s largest industries.

The school says the new degree program responds to state tourism officials’ request for trained professionals and leaders. WVU previously offered an area of emphasis in hospitality and tourism under the management major.

 

NEW MARTINSVILLE

New jobless numbers in: Wetzel County’s rate of 10 percent was the state’s highest unemployment rate. In the latest report, from November, the jobless rate fell in 41 of West Virginia’s 55 counties in November.

WorkForce West Virginia said Friday that unemployment rose in 13 counties and was unchanged in one.

The state’s seasonally adjusted jobless rate in November fell one-tenth of a percentage point to 6.1 percent.

Monongalia County had the state’s lowest unemployment rate at 3 percent, followed by Jefferson at 3.3 percent and Pendleton at 3.8 percent.

 

WHEELING

Donor mourned: A funeral was held Monday in Wheeling for Sylvan James Dlesk, whose donation enabled West Virginia University to build a new soccer stadium.

Kepner Funeral Homes in Wheeling says Dlesk died Dec. 18 at Wheeling Hospital. He was 75.

Dlesk’s donation enabled the construction of WVU’s soccer stadium in 2004 in Morgantown.

The Wheeling resident had served as board chairman of First West Virginia Bancorp and president and CEO of Progressive Bank, both in Wheeling.

– Compiled with information from the Associated Press

 

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