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You are here News Energy Mines No Safer Despite $1 Billion In Fines, Federal Audit Says

Mines No Safer Despite $1 Billion In Fines, Federal Audit Says

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Darby Mine where explosion killed 6 miners

An audit of the federal system that fines mining companies for unsafe conditions found no evidence that more than $1 billion in mine safety penalties over 18 years deterred unsafe mining practices.

The four-year long audit from the Office of Inspector General of the Labor Department says its analysis of Mine Safety and Health Administration accident and violations data "showed no correlation between penalties paid and the safety of mine operations."

The audit was prompted by a 2014 NPR investigation of thousands of mines and mining companies that did find such a connection. Specifically, NPR found that mines that persistently ignored their penalties had injury rates 50 percent higher than mines that paid their fines. In total, NPR examined the safety records of mines that had failed to pay nearly $70 million in penalties, some with delinquent fines that were decades old.

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