Wednesday, February 08, 2006

MSHA Flip-Flops on Breathing Devices, WV Mine Safety Chief Stepping Down

Seth Borenstein of Knight-Ridder's Washington Bureau:

"Federal mine safety officials, who four years ago axed a requirement to stock coal mines with spare emergency air masks to protect miners from poisonous gases, now say workers are in 'grave danger' without those breathing devices.

"Following back-to-back mining accidents in West Virginia that killed 14 men last month, the Bush administration is reviving a rule that would require the added supplies of the masks and the training to use them."

MSHA rushed out a press release late yesterday after being called to comment on the story.

After criticism from the Courier-Journal about failure to collect civil penalties, MSHA is now suing a defunct mine operator in the state, the newspaper reports.

Doug Conaway, director of West Virginia's Office on Miners' Health, Safety and Training, who has been less than highly visible for some months now, says he will leave the job soon.

And Governor Manchin is taking on an unpaid legal adviser to the mine safety office.


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