Dotiki Mine is an underground operation in Hopkins County, Kentucky, owned by Alliance Resource Partners (ARLP) and operated by Webster Coal.
On April 28, 2010, a roof collapsed in the mine, killing two miners. KY Gov. Steve Beshear said rescue crews had to pull back after reaching the site of the collapse when the roof became unstable. United Mine Workers officials say two other miners escaped. The missing miners were operating what's known as a continuous miner, a machine that digs coal for transport to the surface.
Records show inspectors from the Kentucky Office of Mine Safety and Licensing have issued 31 orders to close sections of the mine or to shut down equipment because of safety violations since January 2009. Those records also show an additional 44 citations for safety violations that didn't result in closure orders.
According to the Herald-Leader, the Dotiki operator was "cited 216 times so far in 2010, according to MSHA's Web site. In 2009, the company was cited 649 times, more than the 458 citations issued last year against the West Virginia mine that blew up April 5 killing 29. On April 13, MSHA cited the operator for not notifying it quickly of an accident and for not preserving an accident site." And:
"Joe Craft, the president of Dotiki owner Alliance, organized a group of donors last year to pay for a new $7 million 'Wildcat Coal Lodge' to house the University of Kentucky men's basketball players on campus. Alliance also was tied to a controversy last year over the firing of the state's director of the state Division of Mine Permits. Ron Mills said he refused to issue about a half-dozen mine permits requested over the past year, chiefly by the politically connected Alliance Resource Partners, because they did not comply with federal and state mining law. Mills' denials were overruled."
The mine was at least partially idled in 2004 when a supply tractor caught fire and spread flames to the coal, timbers, and other equipment. 70 miners were trapped underground but were safely evacuated, and the mine returned to full production in about a month. In 1995, a worker died outside the mine when the bulldozer he was operating fell into a cavity in a coal stock pile. He was buried in coal and suffocated.
On April 25, 2011, the families of the two western Kentucky coal miners killed in the 2010 roof collapse sued Alliance Resource Partners, saying production was emphasized over safety at the Dotiki mine. The U.S. District Court lawsuit was filed by Sandy Travis of Dixon and Melissa Carter of Hanson, whose husbands died in the April 28, 2010 collapse. They also filed claims with the federal Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) seeking $9 million each for personal injury and wrongful death. Travis and Carter said in the lawsuit that safety was secondary at the mine, as the mine had been cited more than 1,000 times between January 2009 and the day of the roof collapse - including 13 closure orders and at least 57 citations in the two years before the roof collapse.
In July 2010, the Kentucky Office of Mine Safety and Licensing issued a notice of noncompliance to Webster County Coal for violations of state laws that require companies to have adequate roof control plans in underground mines. Three months later, MSHA said Alliance Resource Partners properly followed the roof control plan at the Dotiki mine, and that a non-detectable formation of slippery rock called slickenslides or slips caused the roof to cave in at an unsupported area being mined. MSHA did cite the mine for failing to adequately support the roof. In the claims against MSHA, Travis and Carter allege the agency did not properly document citations nor comprehensively inspect facilities and allowed the mining company to skirt regulations.
- MSHA ID: 1502132
- Operator: Webster County Coal LLC
- Controller: Alliance Resource Partners LP
- County: Hopkins
- State: KY
- Latitude: 37.4
- Longitude: -87.63
- 2007 Production (short tons): 4,597,010
- Coal Type: Bituminous
- Mining Method: Underground
- Mine Status: Active
- Average No. of Employees: 411
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To see a listing of coal mines in a particular state, click on the map:
- "http://www.google.com/hostednews/ap/article/ALeqM5ig5LJgqRLxQqyXPWGKvfaFjqL_swD9FCS7O00" Google, April 29, 2010.
- "1 missing, 1 dead in Kentucky mine with link to UK donor" Lexington Herald-Leader, April 29, 2010.
- Brett Barrouquere, "Families of miners killed in western Kentucky roof collapse sue coal company" AP, April 25, 2011.
- "Major U.S. Coal Mines," Energy Information Administration