A. The Director or a mine inspector shall issue a closure order requiring any mine or section thereof cleared of all persons, or equipment removed from use, and refusing further entry into the mine of all persons except those necessary to correct or eliminate a hazardous condition, when (i) a violation of this chapter and Chapters 14.5 (§ 45.1-161.293 et seq.) and 14.6 (§ 45.1-161.304 et seq.) has occurred, which creates an imminent danger to the life or health of persons in the mine; (ii) a mine fire, mine explosion, or other serious accident has occurred at the mine, as may be necessary to preserve the scene of such accident during the investigation of the accident; (iii) a mine is operating without a license, as provided by § 45.1-161.292:30; or (iv) an operator to whom a notice of violation was issued has failed to abate the violation cited therein within the time period provided in such notice for its abatement; however, a closure order shall not be issued for failure to abate a violation during the pendency of an administrative appeal of the issuance of the notice of violation as provided in subsection D of § 45.1-161.292:63. In addition, a technical specialist may issue a closure order upon discovering a violation creating an imminent danger.
B. One copy of the closure order shall be delivered to the licensed operator of the mine or his agent or the mine foreman and any independent contractor working in the area of the mine affected by the closure order.
C. Upon a finding by the mine inspector of abatement of the violation creating the hazardous condition pursuant to which a closure order has been issued as provided in clause (i) of subsection A, or cessation of the need to preserve an accident scene as provided in clause (ii) of subsection A, or the issuance of a license for the mine if the closure order was issued as provided in clause (iii) of subsection A, or abatement of the violation for which the notice of violation was issued as provided in clause (iv) of subsection A, the Director or mine inspector shall issue a notice of correction, copies of which shall be delivered as provided in subsection B.
D. The issuance of a closure order shall constitute a final order of the Department, and the owner, licensed operator and independent contractor shall not be entitled to administrative review of such decision. The owner, licensed operator or independent contractor to whom a closure order has been issued may, within ten days following the issuance of the order, bring a civil action in the circuit court of the city or county in which the mine, or the greater portion thereof, is located for review of the decision. The commencement of such a proceeding shall not, unless specifically ordered by the court, operate as a stay of the closure order. The court shall promptly hear and determine the matters raised by the owner or operator. In any such action the court shall receive the records of the Department with respect to the issuance of the order, and shall receive additional evidence at the request of any party. In any proceeding under this section, the Attorney General or the attorney for the Commonwealth for the jurisdiction where the mine is located, upon the request of the Director, shall represent the Department. The court shall vacate the closure order if the preponderance of the evidence establishes that the order was not issued in accordance with the provisions of this section.
E. If it shall be finally determined that a closure order was not issued in accordance with the provisions of this section, the closure order shall be vacated, and the improperly issued closure order shall not be used to the detriment of the owner or operator to whom it was issued.
1997, c. 390; 1998, c. 695.