Below is a letter from KRC to the state Surface Mining Commissioner relating to Sunny Ridge Mining Company. The company has had a history of blasting rock from its minesites onto other's properties. In the most recent incident, flyrock apparently grazed a one-year old child who was celebrating her first birthday at an outdoor party over 1,700 feet from the blast site. The state agency is moving towards a "show cause" hearing on whether to revoke the mining company's permits.
Kentucky Resources Council, Inc.
Post Office Box 1070
Frankfort, Kentucky 40602
(502) 875-2428 phone (502) 875-2845 fax
June 12, 2002
Commissioner Carl Campbell
Department for Surface Mining
#2 Hudson Hollow
Frankfort, Kentucky 40601
Re: Flyrock Violations, Sunny Ridge Mining Company
I am writing to inquire as to the status of the "show cause" hearing for mine blasting-related violations by Sunny Ridge Mining Company, Inc. I understand that the company has had a number of blasting-related violations of 405 KAR 16:120 on its mining operations, and that according to a May 10, 2002 DSMRE inspection report, in the most recent incident on Sunny Ridge's Permit No. 898-0492, two rocks averaging five by eight inches in size were cast over 1,700 feet from the blast area onto the property of Mr. Shawn Ward of Homemade Hollow in McVeigh. The report indicates that the flyrock incident occurred while the Wards were having an outdoor 1st-year birthday party for daughter Emily, and that fragments of the flyrock actually hit Emily or another child.
The records that I have reviewed indicate these other violations of 405 KAR 16:120 relating to use of explosives on Sunny Ridge Mining operations:
* Sunny Ridge was issued a Notice of Non-Compliance on August 21, 2000 for allowing flyrock to be cast from the permit area on August 16, 2000 onto residences in Henroost Fork of Feds Creek.
* Sunny Ridge was issued a Cessation order on February 24, 2001 for Permit No. 898-0473 for allowing "fly rock to be cast from the permit as result of blasting activities at Little Blue Springs Br. Small sized rocks (pebble size) have landed on the home of Ron Salmons at 467 Little Blue Springs."
* Sunny Ridge Mining received a notice of noncompliance for that same permit on August 28, 2001 for engaging in "unsafe blasting practices that have created an imminent danger to the health and safety of the public. Numerous rocks from the permit area have landed in the yard on the roof of residence and a camper in the yard near the residence. Rocks range in size from 1" to 6"."
* Sunny Ridge Mining also received a notice of noncompliance as a result of an inspection on June 29, 2001 indicating that blasting records were not properly maintained.
405 KAR 12:020 Section 8 authorizes the Cabinet to find a pattern of violations exists based on the number of violations cited on more than one occasion, of the same or related requirements of KRS Chapter 350, 405 KAR Chapters 7 through 24; or permit conditions. The Cabinet may find a pattern based on two violations of same or related requirements in a 12-month period where those violations are caused by the unwarranted failure of the permittee or were willful violations. The Cabinet is required to conduct a pattern-of-violation review for the history of violations of a permittee who has been cited for violations of the same or related requirements during three or more inspections during any 12-month period.
I understand that the Cabinet has issued or intends to issue a "show cause" order requiring the company to answer to why a pattern of violations should not be found to exist. The record fully supports this proposed action, and may warrant additional action to assure that residents living and working near Sunny Ridge operations are not placed in jeopardy by an apparent pattern of inadequate attention to control of blast rock.
My questions are these:
1. Was a pattern of violation review initiated after the second flyrock violation on February 24, 2001, and if so, what was the outcome. If not, is there a justification in the file for why such a review was not initiated?
2. Similarly, was a POV review initiated after the August 28, 2001 flyrock violation just six months after and on the same permit as the February 24, 2001 flyrock violation?
3. Has the Cabinet determined whether the problems are related to inadequate planning or poor execution of the blasting plan, or are attributable to another cause or causes. If the problems are blaster-related has the Cabinet referred the violation to the Department for Mines and Minerals for possible action?
Thank you in advance for your consideration of these concerns. The Council supports prompt and decisive enforcement action consistent with your regulations to assure that public safety is not placed at peril from mine-generated blast flyrock. I would appreciate receiving notice when the "show cause" hearing is scheduled.