Thursday, July 24, 2008

Team Work Pays Off!

August 2007 we lost 6 miners and 3 recuse workers in the Crandall mine and the MSHA will release the report tomorrow. It was delayed because they decided that it needed a translation for the Hispanic speaking community and they wanted to let the families view the findings before it was released to the public.

The reoccurring questions as to whom the responsibly lies; is once again in the air. Mining families have called on the mine owner, Mr. Murry and the United Mine Workers of America call out MSHA as well. Most know they share in the responsibility as MSHA's Mr. Stickler alluded to.

"There's no way we can cover everything," Stickler said. But, he added, there were "obviously" some things missed that should have been caught: "We could not have been there to catch everything."

This is really know news to those working for change and the families that lost a loved one.

Brandon Erickson who lost his father Don Erickson states, "I'm just here to support the safety aspect of it,"..."It seems it will be better in the future." "It was honorable," Erickson said about the recognition of his father. "I just wish that he was still here."

Wendy Black, who's husband Dale Black wa lost in rescue efforts stated, "If we can help save one coal miner with all this help, it'll be worth it,"

Mike Dalpiaz says,"MSHA's finger is in this pie, too,"..."If that mine would have been unionized, that particular mining practice never would have happened,"..."If that mine would have been unionized, that particular mining practice never would have happened,"...These guys are just so intimidated,"

The intimidation spoke of is common in any workplace especially when their are few jobs in the area or it happens to have the best pay.

With the help of families, Unions and concerned officials Pennsylvania Gov. Edward Rendell signed new mine safety legislation.

In the new legislation calls for a Board of Coal Mine Safety that will be chaired by the secretary of the Department of Environmental Protection and three members each representing mine owners and mine workers. The board new board will be responsible for writing any new mine safety regulations.

"The law will:
* Make the mine owner or operator primarily responsible for safety compliance at the mine and allow DEP to assess fines and penalties for noncompliance.
* Increase to 500 feet from 200 feet the distance from which a bituminous underground operator must conduct advanced drilling when approaching an adjacent mine that may contain water or gas to provide an extra measure of security so miners don't accidentally breech an abandoned mine pool, as happened at Quecreek.
* Authorize the department to use emergency contracting provisions to pay for mine rescue and other mine safety activities.
The law will also codify administrative changes made by DEP's Bureau of Mine Safety since the Quecreek accident, including:
* Giving mine safety officials the authority to review every mine permit application and reject applications if they think unsafe conditions may exist.
* Implementing stringent new requirements to validate and verify underground mine maps before new mining can take place.
* Increasing the distance between planned mining and abandoned mines from 200 feet to 500 feet -- to provide an extra measure of security so miners don't accidentally breech an abandoned mine pool containing millions of gallons of water, as happened at Quecreek.
* Replacing outdated equipment that was more than 30 years old with 84 new, self-contained breathing units, at a cost of $745,000, for underground mine rescue teams. These new units are housed at mine rescue stations in Uniontown, Fayette County; Ebensburg, Cambria County; and Tremont, Schuylkill County.
* Developing and implementing training for dealing with mine inundation, as well as continuing education programs for mining professionals, mine managers, and mine inspectors on mine safety issues.
* Increasing salaries for engineers, inspectors and training staff in order to be more competitive when recruiting and maintaining quality safety professionals."

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