Federal Regulators to Require Protective Chambers for Miners

January 5, 2009

Federal regulators will require coal operators to provide protective shelters, known in the industry as refuge chambers, in all of the nation’s nearly 600 underground coal mines.

U.S. Mine Safety and Health Administration director Richard Stickler said his agency plans to publish a final rule last week requiring the chambers to protect miners if they are trapped underground.

Stickler said the refuge chambers must provide at least 15 square feet of floor space per person and be stocked with enough food, water and air to sustain miners for 96 hours.

The rule will require the chambers to be located within 1,000 feet of working areas in underground mines.

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