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West Virgina Mine Closing

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MsSage

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W. Va. Gov. Asks for Mining Shutdown After Two Deaths
Thursday, February 02, 2006
DRAWDY, W.Va. — Gov. Joe Manchin called for all coal companies in West Virginia to shut down for safety checks after two more mine workers were killed Wednesday in separate accidents.
While Manchin's call was voluntary, he also ordered the state's mine inspection schedule speeded up so that all 229 surface and 315 underground mines are examined by regulators as soon as possible.

"We're going to check for unsafe conditions, and we're going to correct any unsafe conditions before we mine another lump of coal," Manchin said.

He was later joined by David Dye, acting U.S. assistant secretary of labor for mine safety and health, who urged coal mines nationwide to conduct a brief "time out" Feb. 6 to discuss hazards and safety precautions with workers. Dye cited the recent upsurge in mine accidents.

"I am asking miners and management at every mine operation to do the right thing: take one hour out for safety's sake this Monday," he said in a statement.

Both deaths Wednesday occurred at mines in southwestern West Virginia, officials said. One miner was killed at an underground mine when a wall support popped loose. And a bulldozer operator died at a surface mine when the vehicle struck a gas line and sparked a fire.
The deaths brought to 16 the number of mining-related fatalities in West Virginia since Jan. 2.

Manchin said he did not know how long it would take the state's mines to conduct safety checks, which would include reviewing mine conditions, safety checklists and designated escape routes.

Spokeswoman Lara Ramsburg said Manchin does not have the power to shutter mines that do not heed his request but that he was unaware of any companies refusing to.

West Virginia is the nation's second-largest coal producer, after Wyoming. It was not immediately clear how much a shutdown might cost the industry, said Bill Raney, president of the West Virginia Coal Association.

Ted Pile, a spokesman for Alpha Natural Resources, which operates several mines in the state, said he had not heard of the governor's request but added that the deaths were "tragic news."

A spokeswoman for Peabody Energy, parent of Eastern Associated Coal Corp., said safety checks are standard at its operations.

Calls to other coal companies that operate in the state were not immediately returned.

Names of the two mine workers who died Wednesday were not immediately released.

Gresham said the underground miner was killed at Long Branch Energy's No. 18 Tunnel Mine in Boone County. He was pronounced dead at a hospital.

The bulldozer operator died at the Black Castle Surface Mine, also in Boone County, Gresham said. Black Castle is operated by Elk Run Coal Co., a subsidiary of Massey Energy Co. The death was the third at a Massey subsidiary in less than two weeks.

The fatalities followed the deaths of a dozen miners from carbon monoxide poisoning after a Jan. 2 explosion at International Coal Group Inc.'s Sago Mine. The explosion trapped the men hundreds of feet underground. The sole survivor, Randal McCloy Jr., is recovering in a rehabilitation hospital.

Less than three weeks after Sago, two miners died in a belt line fire at Massey's Aracoma Coal Alma No. 1 mine in Melville, about 180 miles away.

Manchin responded to those earlier tragedies by pushing a state mine-safety bill through the Legislature in a single day. Among other things, the bill requires coal companies to provide miners with emergency communicators and tracking devices, and to store extra air supplies underground.

West Virginia's congressional delegation followed up those efforts Wednesday, introducing similar federal legislation.

The Long Branch mine employs around 59 people, according to the federal Mine Safety and Health Administration. Eight workers were injured during the first nine months of 2005, more than 2 1/2 times the national average, according to MSHA figures.

Federal inspectors issued 50 citations against the mine last year, 19 of which were considered "significant and substantial."

Two employees were injured at the Black Castle during the first nine months of 2005, below the national average. The mine has about 186 workers



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Mrs.Greg

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Although I think its the right desision to close the mine,they really have to look into the safety issues,I really feel for the miners and thier families,its thier livelyhood!
 

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