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MSHA launches inspection blitz in nation's coalfields (4/23)

April 23, 2010
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The Mine Safety and Health Administration announced in a press statement that the agency launched an inspection blitz over the past weekend at 57 coal mines whose history of underground conditions indicated a significant number of violations and/or conditions that may include problems relating to methane accumulations, ventilation practices, rock dust applications and inadequate mine examinations.

These impact inspections came on the heels of a directive issued by Assistant Secretary of Labor for Mine Safety and Health Joseph A. Main immediately following the April 5 explosion at Upper Big Branch Mine in Montcoal, W.Va. Under that directive, Main instructed all district managers overseeing the nation’s coal mines to focus increased attention on mine ventilation, rock dusting, methane monitoring and mine examinations during all ongoing regular inspections.

“The purpose of these inspections is to provide assurance that no imminent dangers, explosions, hazards or other serious health or safety conditions and practices are present at these mines,” said Main. “Just last week, we pledged to the president that we will do whatever it takes to make sure another tragedy like the one that claimed 29 miners’ lives at Upper Big Branch never happens again.”

Depending upon mine size, as many as 10 inspectors were sent to each mine operation. They examined mechanized mining units at the selected mines, as well as the mines’ bleeder systems, belt entries and seals.

The 57 mines were selected based on their history of significant and/or repeat violations and focused on safety standards concerning methane, mine ventilation and rock dusting — the types of violations that can lead to mine accidents.

Mines in 10 states were the target of the inspection blitz: West Virginia (23 mines), Kentucky (14), Alabama (4), Illinois (3), Utah (3), Indiana (3), Pennsylvania (2), Virginia (2), Tennessee (2) and Colorado (1). More than 275 coal mine enforcement personnel participated in the blitz.

Go here for a list of the 57 mines inspected. The results of these inspections will be made public as they become available.

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