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$111,000 in Fines Assessed in Utah Mine Fire That Killed 27

May 12, 1987|Associated Press

SALT LAKE CITY — The federal Mine Safety and Health Administration on Monday levied fines totaling more than $111,000 against the owner and operator of a coal mine in which 27 people died during a fire.

The fines, the largest assessed by the Labor Department agency under the 1977 Mine Safety and Health Act, were based on 34 alleged safety violations, including $77,000 for nine the agency said contributed directly to the 1984 fire at the Wilberg Mine.

Mine owner Utah Power & Light Co. of Salt Lake City and Emery Mining Corp. of Orem, Utah, the former operator, have contested the citations. That requires a hearing before an administrative law judge, for which a date has not yet been set.

Fire Blamed on Compressor

Utah Power & Light officials dispute MSHA's findings on the cause of the fire, which has been blamed on a faulty air compressor, and object to having the utility's name on the citations, spokesman John Ward said Monday.

UP&L took over operation of the Wilberg and its two other central Utah coal mines in April, 1986.

Those answering the phone Monday at Emery Mining's parent company, Savage Western Industries, said no one was available for comment.

Twenty-six men and one woman were trying to set a world long-wall coal-mining record in the mine when the fire broke out in the main tunnel system on Dec. 19, 1984. They died of smoke inhalation.

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