Thursday, March 16, 2006

Indiana Story

WHTR-TV has a lengthy piece on the Indiana state government's failure to do any mine inspections.

Two days after the West Virginia coal mining accident that killed 12 miners in January, a clear directive went out from Miguel Rivera, Indiana's commissioner of labor. In a letter to John Alaria, the deputy commissioner of the bureau of mines, Rivera wrote: "I am instructing you to commence inspection at each of the underground commercial coal mines in Indiana."

The state decided to "commence" inspections because, as an Eyewitness News investigation found, state officials hadn't inspected a single one of Indiana's seven underground coal mines for at least a year - a violation of state law.
Rivera said the state had concentrated on training and mine rescue.

"I made that call," state Department of Labor Commissioner Miguel Rivera told Eyewitness News....

...State law also requires the bureau of mines to have both a director and a chief mine inspector, but for most of the last year, the bureau has had only one employee - [John] Alaria.

Rivera said the department's budget wouldn't allow for the hiring of a second employee, but Alaria was filling both roles.
Alaria has now quit, the station reported.

The state has a $177,442 grant from MSHA to herlp support its miner training program administered through a public college.

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