Coal industry questions rescue rules

May 22, 2006 at 1:40 PM
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BOULDER, Colo., May 22 (UPI) -- The U.S. coal industry wants to roll back or amend many of the federal safety rules adopted after the mining accidents early this year in West Virginia.

At hearings coordinated by the U.S. Mine Safety and Health Administration, the new safety rules received support but the core provisions aimed at helping miners escape after an underground fire or explosion were challenged, reports the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

Miners' unions asked that the rules be tightened. The new rules require mines to notify the agency of a serious accident within 15 minutes, improve evacuation training and install more and better-situated oxygen supplies and lifelines.

The agency also is requiring mine operators to report all unplanned underground mine fires instead of only those that burn for longer than 30 minutes, the report said.

Those testifying for the industry said MSHA, reacting to public pressure after the mining accidents, has imposed rules that are too rigid and maybe too costly. Mine operators also want the agency to set up a rapid response reporting line with automatic forwarding to the appropriate MSHA office, the report said.

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