A subsidiary of Murray Energy Corp. has been forced to pay more than $70,000 in overdue fines for health and safety violations at the Aberdeen Mine in Carbon County.

The U.S. Mine Safety and Health Administration said this week that it collected the $70,000 in overdue civil penalties this summer from Murray subsidiary Andalex Resources Inc. MSHA cited nine violations in August and October 2007 at the Aberdeen Mine, including problems with the mine's roof-control plan, as well as inadequate installation of barriers between the coal face and walkway areas, which presented potential safety hazards for workers.

The agency also cited the company for excess accumulations of coal dust within the mine, an inadequate fire-suppression system and an improperly maintained methane-detection device.

"When mine operators do not pay civil penalties, they have a reduced incentive to prevent and remedy the hazards that face the men and women who work in their mines," said Richard E. Stickler, acting assistant secretary of labor for mine safety and health, in a news release announcing payment of the fines.

Meanwhile, the company is appealing a $420,300 fine that MSHA sought in March for "flagrant" fire and explosive conditions at the Aberdeen Mine. Shortly after that fine was announced, the mine

was closed.

A Murray Energy spokesman did not respond to a request for comment Thursday afternoon.

In April, MSHA also levied a $118,800 fine for another Murray-owned mine, the West Ridge Mine in Carbon County, for a "flagrant" violation of safety rules. The Intermountain Power Agency is a co-owner of that mine.

Murray Energy and the Intermountain Power Agency also own equal shares in the Crandall Canyon Mine, where six miners died in a collapse last August. Three rescuers died days later in a second collapse while trying to reach the trapped miners, whose bodies were never recovered.

Since the Crandall Canyon disaster, federal inspectors have cited more than 1,300 safety violations in Utah underground coal mines — a rate higher than the average for the previous four years. That amount is in addition to numerous other citations issued for the disaster itself.

At least 368 of those violations after Crandall Canyon were considered "significant and substantial" threats to health and life.

Murray Energy, based in Cleveland, is the largest independent, family-owned coal producer in the United States. Murray Energy owner Robert E. Murray ranks No. 7 in the nation for the number of violations found at his mines nationwide — 1,543 from Oct. 1 to March 31. Murray also has contested more violations — 1,367, or 89 percent of all those cited at his mines — than all but one other mine operator in the nation in that time.

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