Nearly 60 problem coal mines have been hit with surprise inspections aimed at preventing another explosion like the one that killed 29 miners in West Virginia, the nation's chief mine safety regulator said yesterday. The raids targeted 57 mines with a history of violations, the Mine Safety and Health Administration said, including eight belonging to Massey Energy, the $4.17 billion company that owned the doomed West Virginia mine.
"The purpose of these inspections is to provide assurance that no imminent dangers, explosions, hazards, or other serious health or safety conditions and practices are present at these mines," the MSHA's director said. But one targeted mine operator grumbled that the inspections were unnecessary. "The problem in the industry today is the professionals are being brow beaten by politicians," he said. "The employees are on edge, everybody's on edge and it's from people who don't know what the hell they're talking about." (Read more coal mine stories.)