UPDATE: 25 dead, 2 hurt, 4 missing after mine explosion
The final version of the bill mostly applied to the coal industry. However, the legislation codified provisions that were applicable to all mining sectors — such as the Mine Safety and Health Administration’s (MSHA) 15-minute emergency notification requirement when an incident or accident poses a reasonable risk of death; increased penalties, including a minimum $2,000 fine for Section 104 (d) (1) violation; and the increase of the civil fine for “flagrant” violations to a maximum $220,000.
In Jan. 23, 2006, testimony to the Subcommittee on Labor, Health & Human Services of the Senate Committee on Appropriations MSHA Oversight Hearing while the Mine Act of 2006 was being drafted, Charlie E. Hawkins, III, then executive vice president and COO for the National , Stone, Sand & Gravel Association (NSSGA), said that the events in the Sago Mine and Aracoma Coal Alma No. 1 Mine disasters were undoubtedly tragic. However, he pointed out that the aggregates industry safety record has steadily improved and is “attributable to a combination of more effective safety and health programs developed and implemented by the industry over the past decade in response to increased Mine Safety and Health Administration regulation of the mining industry and heightened enforcement.”
“The loss of even one life, let alone 14 lives, is devastating,” Hawkins said in his testimony. “Nevertheless, the safety record of the mining industry, and the aggregates industry in particular, has improved due to a heightened level of effort invested by the industry to sustain an improved performance.”
But despite safety improvements in the aggregates mining sector, regulation has continued after mining tragedies regardless of the mining industry sector. In 2008, supplemental mine safety legislation (S-MINER) was passed in response to the the 2007 coal mine incidents. The aggregates industry — particularly NSSGA — vehemently opposed the legislation because it was geared toward the coal mining industry. (Click here to see NSSGA’s Public Policy Position Paper on S-MINER.)
See the May 2010 print issue of Aggregates Manager more analysis on what this incident means for the aggregates industry.
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