Armstrong Coal officials accused of black lung safety cheat

Armstrong Coal officials accused of black lung safety cheat

Held up as an example: A 10-page indictment returned Wednesday charging eight coal officials from the now-defunct Armstrong Coal with falsifying federally mandated coal dust tests designed to protect miners from incurable black lung disease.

Armstrong officials "sought to deceive federal mine safety regulators as to the daily levels of breathable dust" at two of its underground mines: the Parkway Mine in Muhlenburg County and the Kronos Mine in Ohio County, prosecutors allege.

Armstrong officials are accused of making false statements about test results required every 60 days to protect those who work in the dustiest and most dangerous positions in the coal mines.

Investigators allege the company took dust samples from areas with cleaner air — not areas where miners worked long shifts — and the company falsified tests on days the mine wasn't even operating; workers who weren't wearing coal dust pumps, which register levels of hazardous coal dust, replaced others in areas thick with dust; and that a mine superintendent twice told a safety official to take whatever action was necessary to ensure the company passed dust sampling tests.

Armstrong eventually went bankrupt, shutting down the Muhlenburg County mine where Greenwell and Wilson had worked.

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