DEP Suspends Certifications of Mine Officials Involved in Fatal Schuylkill County Accident

HARRISBURG – The Department of Environmental Protection temporarily suspended the mine officials’ certificates for three miners involved in the Oct. 23 fatal accident at R&D Coal Co.’s Buck Mountain Slope Mine in Tremont Township, Schuylkill County.

The action comes as DEP and the U.S. Mine Safety and Health Administration continue their investigation into an explosion inside the mine that resulted in the death of Dale Reightler, 43, of Donaldson in nearby Frailey Township.

The orders suspend the employees’ mine official certifications, meaning they cannot act in this capacity at any Pennsylvania mine. The action is only against the mine officials, not other miners employed at the mine.

“The death of Dale Reightler is a tragic event for all involved and highlights the dangers that miners face every day,” said DEP Deputy Secretary for Mineral Resources Management J. Scott Roberts, whose office oversees all mining in Pennsylvania.

“Mining is dangerous work, but it doesn’t need to be unsafe if proper rules and procedures are followed,” Roberts said. “The purpose of our investigation is to determine why this accident happened and if procedures and additional safeguards need to be developed to protect miners at this and other mining operations.”

The suspensions are temporary, and the names of the officials are being withheld pending completion of the investigation and the release of the final report on the fatal accident.

The underground portion of the investigation has concluded, and DEP and MSHA investigators are in the process of developing recommendations for changes in operating procedures including ventilation controls and blasting practices.

The mine will remain closed until the recommended procedural changes are instituted and the mine can be operated in a safe manner.

DEP’s Bureau of Mine Safety regulates mining activities at 60 underground coal mines in Pennsylvania.

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