MORGANTOWN, W.Va. (AP) - At least the United Mine Workers labor union likes the federal Mine Safety and Health Administration's new rule requiring stronger seals for abandoned sections of underground mines.
U-M-W representative Tim Baker told an MSHA rule-making panel Tuesday in Morgantown that the agency should be commended.
Baker's praise came after a string of criticism and questions raised by coal states and the mining industry.
Foundation Coal's John Gallick said the rule bans a concrete seal long considered the gold standard. Gallick says Foundation built 92 of the concrete seals in front of foam block seals that MSHA ordered strengthened last year.
MSHA adopted the rule in May on an emergency basis in response to fatal West Virginia and Kentucky mine accidents last year. Today was the first of four public hearings scheduled across the country.
Meanwhile, the Interstate Mining Compact Commission believes the rule raises many questions. Speaking for the 19-state group, West Virginia mine safety chief Ron Wooten said the rule conflicts with other MSHA directives. He also says MSHA hasn't specified just how strong the new seals must be.
The other 18 member states of the commission are as follows: Alabama, Arkansas, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Missouri, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas and Virginia.