MSHA launches 'inspection blitz' of 57 coal mines
By The Post's Frank Ahrens in his Economy Watch blog:
The Mine Safety and Health Administration, the federal government's chief mining regulator, launched what it is calling an "inspection blitz" of 57 coal mines nationwide last weekend, focusing on ventilation and methane violations, in the wake of the April 5 West Virginia mine explosion that claimed 29 lives.
The 57 mines were selected for inspection based on their history of significant and/or repeat MSHA violations regarding problems with ventilation, methane buildup and rock dusting. Though the cause of the fatal explosion at the Upper Big Branch mine in West Virginia is still being investigated, early guesses point to a combination of a buildup of dangerous concentration of methane gas and highly explosive coal dust. If a mine is properly ventilated -- and if non-combustible rock dust is spread over exposed coal face walls, lowering the amount of coal dust in the air -- the risk of explosions should be held to a minimum.
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