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Black Lung Citation Prompts Rhino to Shake Up Coal Mine

July 8 (Bloomberg) -- Rhino Eastern LLC changed management at its Eagle Mine 3 after inspectors warned that coal miners faced the risk of deadly explosions and developing black lung disease. The company acknowledged falling short of safety standards.

Rhino Eastern also took other unspecified disciplinary measures aimed at ensuring miners’ safety and full compliance with industry and health standards, the company said in an e-mail today. Government inspectors found 38 violations at the Wyoming County, West Virginia mine during a June 24 visit that revealed “alarming conditions,” the Mine Safety and Health Administration said in a statement yesterday.

“There is absolutely no excuse for allowing such dangerous conditions to exist, and miners deserve better,” Joseph Main, assistant secretary of labor for mine safety and health at MSHA, said in the statement.

Violations included failing to follow approved ventilation, methane and dust control plans in several locations, MSHA said. Inspectors revisited the mine after uncovering “a high number of violations” in May.

Rhino Eastern acknowledged that “certain deficiencies” were found during the inspection and that conditions failed to meet the safety compliance standards of both MSHA and the company.

“Management does not condone action or inaction that violates basic safety standards, and will continue to fully cooperate with MSHA to correct all identified sub-standard practices,” the company said.

Rhino Eastern is a joint venture between master limited partnership Rhino Resource Partners, which owns 51 percent of the unit, and Patriot Coal Corp., which owns the rest.

Rhino Resource Partners is the operator at Eagle Mine 3, spokesman Scott Morris said.

To contact the reporter on this story: Tim Loh in New York at tloh16@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Simon Casey at scasey4@bloomberg.net Jim Efstathiou Jr., Robin Saponar

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