A recent investigation by NPR and Mine Safety and Health News revealed thousands of delinquent fines by mine operators across the county. Those fines, which are handed down by the U.S. Department of Labor's Mine Safety and Health Administration, range in their delinquency from months to decades--sometimes adding up to millions of dollars worth of fines. West Virginia mine operators had nearly $10.8 million in delinquent mine safety penalties at 312 mines (as of March 31, 2014).
Three West Virginia-based mine controllers are among the mine owners with the ten highest delinquent penalty amounts, according to the investigation by NPR and Mine Safety and Health News:
- James C. Justice II, Southern Coal Corp.: $1,995,327 (Justice's delinquencies are in multiple states. He began paying delinquent penalties at the rate of $100,000 a month after being contacted by NPR.)
- Brandy M. Horvath, New West Virginia Mining Company: $1,369,224 (Horvath was involved in a federal criminal case for tax charges that resulted in a 2013 plea agreement and prison sentence. The court ultimately ruled that Horvath was not the actual controller.)
- Richard H. Abraham, Rio Group: $ 982,252 (After NPR series aired, MSHA revealed that Abraham is engaged in negotiations.)
The map below represents a summary of delinquent fines by county in West Virginia. Click on a county to view the number of delinquent fines and the sum of delinquent fines as of March 31, 2014:
Editor's Note: Special thanks to NPR's Howard Berkes and Tim Marema of The Daily Yonder for help on this project.