Coal Mines Blow Off Safety Fines US operations have almost $90m in unpaid By Kevin Spak, Newser Staff Posted Apr 9, 2010 2:43 PM CDT 6 comments Comments Brianna Bailey, 14, holds a sign showing her support for coal miners near the entrance of the Upper Big Branch Mine, Friday, April 9, 2010, in Montcoal, W. Va. (AP Photo/Haraz N. Ghanbari) (Newser) – US coal mining operations have racked up plenty of safety regulations in recent years, but they simply haven’t bothered to pay thee resulting fines. Of the $113 million in major penalties the federal government has dished out over the past 3 years, coal companies have paid just $8 million, USA Today found, after poring over public records. Management of the West Virginia coal mine where there was a deadly explosion on Monday, for example, had paid just one of the major fines it had received since 2007. It had appealed or was just plain delinquent on the other 21, which were worth a total of $505,000. 2007 isn’t an arbitrary cut-off; that’s when the Mine Safety and Health Administration began its push to toughen safety rules, in the wake of several fatal accidents in 2006.