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Mar 21, 2012- Gov. Tomblin Holds Ceremony to Sign Mine Safety Bill

By: Michael Hyland
By: Michael Hyland

Drafted in response to the Upper Big Branch disaster, the bill puts in place several new regulations aimed at bolstering safety.

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP & WSAZ) - West Virginia is updating mine safety laws in advance of the two-year anniversary of the nation's worst coal-mining disaster in decades.

Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin and House Speaker Rick Thompson were among those on hand Wednesday to mark legislation passed during the recent session.

Several provisions respond to the Upper Big Branch disaster in Raleigh County, where an underground explosion killed 29 miners on April 5, 2010.

The measure supports whistleblower protections encouraging miners to report unsafe conditions. It requires each mine's top on-site official to sign off on safety logs regularly. The bill also targets deadly methane gas and coal dust levels.

Tomblin signed the legislation last week. He held Wednesday's brief ceremony at a statue dedicated to miners and their industry on the state Capitol grounds.

The bill passed by a wide margin during the recent legislative session. Several House members, including Thompson, made impassioned speeches about their personal losses.

The bill was temporarily held up when industry representatives raised concerns about certain provisions, including who a surviving family member could appoint to sit in for them during investigative hearings.

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