MSHA Belt Air Panel Sets June 20-21 Meeting

The contentious issue of utilizing belt air -- fresh air pumped down into underground coal mines through passageways where conveyors are moving mined coal up to the surface -- may be moving closer to resolution, with the fourth meeting of the Technical Study Panel on the Utilization of Belt Air and the Composition and Fire Retardant Properties of Belt Materials in Underground Coal Mining set for June 20-21 in Birmingham, Ala. The meeting is open to the public.

The panel was created under the MINER Act, the mine safety reform measure enacted after the Sago Mine multi-fatality explosion that has brought stepped-up enforcement from MSHA. The panel began its meetings in January 2007 and must submit a report to the secretaries of Labor and HHS by December 2007; MSHA and its advisory panels have studied the belt air issue for years, with mine operators and the United Mine Workers of America at odds about its safety.

The agenda for this meeting includes a panel of Atmospheric Monitoring System manufacturers and discussion of sensor technologies and current AMS capabilities; there will also be a general discussion of belt air issues with operator and labor representatives, MSHA said. For information about the event, visit www.msha.gov/BeltAir/BeltAir.asp or contact Patricia W. Silvey, director of MSHA's Office of Standards, Regulations, and Variances, at 202-693-9440 or silvey.patricia@dol.gov.

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