West Virginia Mine Safety Board Considers New Rules

April 22, 2010

West Virginia’s Board of Coal Mine Health and Safety is reviewing safety proposals in response to the April 5 blast at the Upper Big Branch mine that killed 29 miners.

Panel members have voted to seek public comment on a rule that would require mines to install gauges that would measure barometric pressure as a way to monitor dangerous gases. More methane gas can be emitted from coal as barometric pressure drops. The rule would mandate daily readings.

The board is also weighing changes in mine rescue procedures and better ventilation of coal conveyer belts, along with ways to control explosive levels of coal dust and to require more timely calibration of methane detectors.

Officials suspect that both methane and coal dust fueled the April 5 blast at the Massey Energy mine.

The Associated Press contributed to this article.

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