Owner of Brown’s Meadow Quarry, Maine, falls foul of MSHA, again

A quarry operator in Sullivan, Maine who got into hot water with federal officials five years ago again is being scrutinized over alleged lack of proper safety measures at his work site.

Last year the US Department of Labor filed a complaint in federal court in Bangor seeking a court-ordered injunction prohibiting quarry owner Conrad J Smith from interfering with or preventing federal officials from inspecting and enforcing safety measures at the property.

In the complaint, federal officials say they received an anonymous phone call about alleged safety violations at Brown’s Meadow Quarry, which Smith owns and operates. When a federal mine inspector showed up at the quarry the following day, he saw that there were no guard rails around the rim of the quarry opening, which is a violation of federal regulations, according to the court document.

Smith was allegedly uncooperative when the inspector attempted to discuss the matter. Smith told the inspector to leave. “Rather than engage, Mr Smith stood in front of [the inspector], turned his backside to him, and bent over and exposed half of his naked posterior,” federal officials said in the complaint.

“‘I’m bending over now,’ Smith said. ‘Give me what you want.'”

At a hearing that Smith had been notified about but failed to attend, federal Judge John Woodcock granted the US Department of Labor a temporary restraining order against Smith, barring him from interfering with federal inspections and enforcement actions at the quarry, according to information posted in a publicly accessible online database of federal court cases.

No defense attorney representing Smith was listed Tuesday in the database. Attempts Tuesday to contact Smith were unsuccessful.

In 2010, federal officials accused Smith of of similar violations, alleging the quarry had no mandated safety chains or suitable locking devices on high-pressure air lines, no railings or warning signs in certain locations in the quarry, and that power switches were unlabeled and oxygen tanks unsecured.

A year later, federal officials dropped their case against Smith, indicating in court documents that he had “ceased interfering with Mine Safety and Health Administration inspection” of the property.

In the current complaint, federal officials indicate that the quarry was placed in “abandoned” or inactive status in February 2014, meaning that no quarrying or mining activity was supposed to be taking place. But when the inspector showed up at the quarry on August 18, he saw several people who appeared to be working, along with equipment and “a significant amount” of cut and processed stone.

Smith denied to the inspector that he had processed any stone at the site but did say he works at the quarry when he can and has money for fuel, the complaint indicates. Smith allegedly refused to provide the inspector with the names of other people at the site, whom federal officials believe have not been adequately trained in quarrying operations, as is required by law.

Smith again was uncooperative and barred them from entering the quarry, according to the complaint when two federal inspectors showed up at the site for a follow-up visit on September 1.


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