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Mine Safety Chief Vows to Punish Ventilation Violations

The Hill reported today that the head of the agency in charge of mine safety, the Mine Safety and Health Administration, has pledged to increase enforcement of ventilation standards, a key issue in the ongoing investigation of the deadly April explosion at the Upper Big Branch mine in West Virginia.

Mike Lillis, who did a ton of great reporting on mine safety during his time at TWI, quotes MSHA chief Joseph Main as saying:

These standards are not voluntary and every mine operator in the country is on notice that MSHA will not tolerate violations of ventilation standards.

And some context, again from Lillis:

Among the most damning charges, a number of Massey miners — both current and former — have said that company managers habitually encouraged workers to tear down line curtains, sheets of plastic designed to direct fresh air from vents into underground work chambers.

Main said last week that he still doesn’t know if methane monitors were tampered with before the explosion at the Upper Big Branch mine, which killed 29 people.

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