Monday, May 09, 2005

Mine Operator Sentenced to Prison

This is more like it:
Coal mine operator sentenced to prison
Safety violations cited in fatal blast in 2003

PIKEVILLE, Ky. -- In a rare move, a federal judge sentenced a former coal mine operator yesterday to 60 days in prison for safety violations that led to an explosion in 2003, killing a miner and injuring two others.

Robert Ratliff Sr., 52, is the first miner convicted of safety violations in Eastern Kentucky sentenced to prison in more than a decade, said Assistant U.S. Attorney Davis Sledd, who prosecuted the case.

The sentence comes after Ratliff's company, Cody Mining, was fined $536,050 last year -- the largest federal penalty ever in Kentucky -- for safety violations related to the explosion.
The penalty is a result of the the June 2003 death of Paul Blair Jr., 21, who was hit by debris from an underground wall during blasting to clear an area for mining. The tunnel where Blair hid was not cut correctly, leaving him and four other miners too close to the explosion. The other miners were injured.