Keeping Coal Miners Safe

When things are not done “by the book” in underground coal mines, people can be hurt or killed. That is why situations such as one at a local mine need to be nipped in the bud.

On Tuesday in Wheeling, Senior U.S. District Judge Frederick Stamp sentenced Sean A. Chase to two years of supervised release after Chase pleaded guilty to several charges.

Chase, 32, of Spencer, W.Va., had worked at the Tunnel Ridge Mine in Ohio County. He had claimed to be qualified to be a mine foreman and certified to conduct mine safety examinations. He indicated that to mine officials several times in 2012-13.

But mine personnel, in reviewing records related to continuing education requirements, found Chase had lied. They promptly notified both law enforcement and U.S. Mine Safety and Health Administration officials.

That led to charges against Chase, that he lied about his qualifications, then lied again to federal officials questioning him about them.

Miners need to be able to rely on their co-workers to do their jobs. That is especially true regarding safety. Chase let his fellow miners down, badly.

Fortunately, once mine officials became aware of the problem, they acted decisively to eliminate it – and to ensure Chase was punished.

MSHA officials and the office of U.S. Attorney William J. Ihlenfeld II are to be commended for their swift, decisive response. Praise also is merited by Tunnel Ridge Mine personnel and officials. Their actions should be considered a model for those at other mines.