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MSHA to probe Consol miner's injury in Washington Counthy

| Saturday, Feb. 9, 2013, 11:33 a.m.

Federal mine safety investigators will look into what caused a miner to suffer serious injuries at Consol Energy's Enlow Fork mine in Washington County.

“We need to interview employees — who might have seen this, check equipment. A lot will depend on when we can talk to him,” Thomas Light, district manager for the Mine Safety and Health Administration, said on Saturday.

The miner, who was not identified, was airlifted to UPMC Presbyterian in Oakland, where he is in stable condition in the hospital's intensive care unit, said Lynn Seay, a Consol spokeswoman.

The miner was near a conveyor at about 8:30 p.m. Thursday, where he might have been making repairs on the machine, Light said, when it started, He was caught in the conveyor, a machine used to move cut coal.

“It appears that the machine was inadvertently started by remote control. We have not found out why he was there or how it started,” he said.

Rescuers freed the man and brought him to the surface, where he was examined by emergency medical personnel; he was alert and conscious, said Seay.

“Consol Energy notified state and federal mine safety agencies Thursday evening and is working closely with them to determine the precise cause of the incident,” she said

Neither Seay nor Light would disclose the nature of the man's injuries.

The investigation by federal regulators will last at least several weeks, Light said.

The Enlow Fork mine is one of the largest mines in Pennsylvania, Light said.

In August, Consol told investors that it resumed coal production at the Bailey and Enlow Fork mines after a structural failure on a newly installed above-ground conveyor system at the Bailey Preparation Plant, which processes coal from those mines.

In January, 2012, the company told investors that parts of the Enlow Fork Mine were shut down for about an hour due to an imminent danger order from federal inspectors, who found a concentration of methane above the permitted 1 percent in the working area.

This year, Consol mines have received 18 violations from the Mine Safety and Health Administration.

Rick Wills is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-320-7944 or at rwills@tribweb.com.

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