WASHINGTON, June 17 (UPI) -- Many mine operators are "abusing the system" by appealing every citation inspectors hand out, the head of U.S. mine regulation said.
Richard Stickler, acting assistant secretary for mine safety and health in the Labor Department, said the operators have created a backlog that adds to the Mine Safety and Health Administration's enforcement problems, the Salt Lake Tribune reported.
"It's unfortunate, the amount of resources going on in that process," Stickler said.
In August, three miners were killed in a cave-in at the Crandall Canyon mine in Utah and three rescuers died in another cave-in. MSHA records show that Murray Energy, co-owner of the mine, received 273 citations at its Utah mines between October and April and has appealed 271 of them, the newspaper said.
Congress has scheduled a hearing this month on how well MSHA has enforced legislation passed after several deadly accidents at coal mines in Appalachia that aimed to increase mine safety and improve regulation.