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February 03, 2006
Manchin mine rules contain no deadlines

By Ken Ward Jr.
Staff writer

Coal operators would have no deadline to provide miners with additional oxygen supplies and other rescue gear under rules filed this week by the Manchin administration.

The rules also include a number of restrictions on members of the public obtaining information about mine emergencies that companies report to a new rapid-response center.

Administration officials filed the emergency rules late Wednesday with West Virginia Secretary of State Betty Ireland.

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The rules are intended to implement the mine rescue bill Gov. Joe Manchin pushed through the Legislature after the Sago Mine disaster and the Aracoma Alma No. 1 Mine fire.

In that legislation (SB247), lawmakers created a new mine emergency-response system and required coal companies to provide miners with additional emergency air supplies, communications equipment and tracking devices.

Under the bill, state mine safety and homeland security officials were given broad discretion to work out details of the requirements. Among other things, lawmakers did not specify how many additional air canisters must be provided or where they must be located in underground mines.

In one of the rules filed Wednesday, the state Office of Miners Health, Safety and Training said operators would have to provide additional caches of air supplies � called self-contained self-rescuer devices, or SCSRs � at various locations in their mines.

Under the rule, each cache must contain enough SCSRs to give each miner at least 16 additional devices.

In mines with coal seams taller than four feet, caches would be required every 2,500 feet in each working section. In smaller mines, caches would be required every 1,250 feet, according to the rule.

The rule gives operators 30 days to submit proposed plans for cache locations, and requires the mine safety office to review those plans and suggest any needed changes. But, the rule does not set a definite deadline for when mine operators would have to have the SCSRs in place.

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More The Sago Mine Disaster
  • Sago lightning questions unanswered
  • Sago Mine reopens
  • Company blames lightning for explosion at Sago Mine
  • $106,000 price tag put on recent Sago fines
  • More oxygen ordered in mines
  • Coal industry seeks to reduce safety checks
  • The Charleston Gazette: Mine safety
  • Professional rescuers sought
  • Sago Mine disaster hearing to start May 2
  • MSHA oxygen rule delayed

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