Tough mining law survives court test in Kentucky

Federal regulators have used an enforcement provision of the 33-year-old mine safety law for the first time to win a legal battle involving a troubled Kentucky mine owned by Massey Energy Co.

Federal regulators have used an enforcement provision of the 33-year-old mine safety law for the first time to win a legal battle involving a troubled Kentucky mine owned by Massey Energy Co.

Mine safety experts say the case demonstrates to the mining industry that the law can survive a court challenge.

The U.S. Labor Department sued Richmond, Va.-based Massey in November over the Freedom Energy No. 1 mine, citing gas leaks, ventilation problems and roof collapses as a threat to workers. Massey voluntarily closed the mine last month and settled the suit Wednesday.

U.S. Labor Solicitor Patricia Smith says regulators are considering suing the operator of at least one other troubled mine with the powerful enforcement provision. She didn't name the mine.

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