MSHA Blitz Hits 57 Mines

The Mine Safety and Health Administration began an "inspection blitz" last weekend, visiting 57 coal mines with a history of significant violations or conditions relating to methane accumulations, ventilation practices, rock dust applications, and inadequate mine examinations.

The Mine Safety and Health Administration began an "inspection blitz" last weekend, visiting 57 coal mines with a history of significant violations or conditions relating to methane accumulations, ventilation practices, rock dust applications, and inadequate mine examinations, the agency announced Wednesday.

A response to President Obama's meeting with Assistant Secretary of Labor for Mine Safety and Health Joseph A. Main and Labor Secretary Hilda Solis, and the April 5 explosion at Upper Big Branch Mine in West Virginia that killed 29 miners, the blitz was ordered by Main. All district managers overseeing coal mines were directed to focus on mine ventilation, rock dusting, methane monitoring, and mine examinations during all ongoing regular inspections.

"The purpose of these inspections is to provide assurance that no imminent dangers, explosions, hazards or other serious health or safety conditions and practices are present at these mines," Main said. "Just last week, we pledged to the president that we will do whatever it takes to make sure another tragedy like the one that claimed 29 miners' lives at Upper Big Branch never happens again."

As many as 10 inspectors were sent to each mine operation. They examined mechanized mining units at the selected mines, mines' bleeder systems, belt entries, and seals. The 57 mines were chosen because of their history of significant or repeat violations. Mines in 10 states were targeted: 23 mines in West Virginia, 14 in Kentucky, four in Alabama, three in Illinois, three in Utah and Indiana, two in Pennsylvania and Virginia and Tennessee, and one in Colorado. More than 275 coal mine enforcement employees participated in the blitz, MSHA said.

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