Harlan County coal-mine operator ordered to pay $150,000 fine

The operator of an underground coal mine in Harlan County has been ordered to pay a $150,000 fine in a federal criminal case.

U.S. District Judge Gregory F. Van Tatenhove also placed Manalapan Mining Co. on three years' probation.

Manalapan pleaded guilty to endangering miners at its P-1 mine at Pathfork by allowing them to operate equipment that did not have canopies to protect them if the roof fell. Three supervisors also pleaded guilty.

Authorities investigated the company after a miner was crushed by a large section of the wall that fell at the P-1 mine in June 2011.

Manalapan argued in a court document that it is having financial problems and couldn't pay a large fine.

However, Assistant U.S. Attorney Patrick H. Molloy said Manalapan shared ownership with seven affiliated companies from which it was able to draw more than $2.5 million in 2011.

Manalapan should not be able to escape a sizeable fine by "creative corporate structuring," Molloy said in a motion.

Van Tatenhove sentenced the company July 11.