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SLC – Oct 23 – Hearing for MSHA, new rules, mine-rescue teams

Per the Utah Mining organization newsletter:

Salt Lake City will be one of four locations nationally where the federal Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) will hold hearings this fall on new rules designed to increase the effectiveness of mine-rescue teams.

The Salt Lake hearing will take place Oct. 23 from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Little America Hotel, 500 S. Main St. Other hearings have been scheduled for Lexington, Ky., Charleston, W.Va. and North Birmingham, Ala.

Requests to speak at the hearing must be made five days in advance by contacting MSHA’s Office of Standards, Regulations and Variances at:

* By telephone: 202-693-9440

* By fax: 202-693-9441

* By mail: 1100 Wilson Blvd., Room 2350, Arlington, Va., 22209-3939

Proposed rules published in the Federal Register would require coal mine operators to have two certified mine-rescue teams. All members would have to be able to reach the mine within an hour of an emergency, would have to have “practical experience as an underground coal miner” and would have to have knowledge of their mine’s operations and ventilation systems.

In addition, training requirements for mine-rescue team members would increase from 40 to 64 hours annually and each would have to participate each year in two local mine-rescue contests.

A separate rule proposed by MSHA would require mine operators to provide team members with breathing apparatuses that contain two more hours of breathable air than is currently required and gas detectors to measure potentially dangerous gases during a rescue effort.

The rules were drafted in response to beefed-up mine rescue provisions in the Mine Improvement and New Emergency Response (MINER) Act. Congress passed the act after flaws in the mine-safety system were identified in the investigations of three fatal mine accidents early in 2006, most notably the Sago (West Virginia) disaster in which a dozen miners were killed.

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