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Coal companies Massey Energy Co. (MEE) and Peabody Energy (BTU) have been ordered to turn over accident and injury data to U.S. mining officials after losing a battle to keep the documents private, the Mine Safety and Health Administration said Tuesday.
Massey Energy, which says it is trying to protect the privacy of its workers, is deciding whether to appeal the decision.
An administrative law judge with the Federal Mine Safety and Health Review Commission ruled this week that the companies had to turn over data that will allow regulators to determine compliance with accident, injury and illness reporting requirements.
Regulators sought the data as part of an audit, conducted between October and December, aimed at determining whether specific mines had patterns of violations. Eight mines, either owned or operated by Massey and Peabody, refused to provide necessary records, the U.S. mining agency said.
"Mine operators should be aware that we are not going to rely on what they report to make such critical determinations," said Joseph A. Main, assistant secretary of labor for mine safety and health. "We will check those records ourselves."
A Massey spokesman said the company provided every document that the U.S. mining agency requested except for its workers' medical records.
"Our miners have a right to privacy and we respectfully opposed providing private medical information," company spokesman Jeff Gillenwater said. "We are reviewing the decision and weighing our appeal options."
-By Tennille Tracy, Dow Jones Newswires; 202-862-6619; email@example.com