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Call for comment on MINER Act

THE US Mine Safety and Health Administration is seeking comments related to the implementation of emergency response plans for underground coal mines required under the Mine Improvement and New Emergency Response Act of 2006.

Staff Reporter

MSHA said the information received would assist in the development of a program policy letter that would provide guidance to the mining public on compliance with the emergency response plan requirement of Section 2 of the Act.

Comments should be limited to Section 2 of the MINER Act and can be sent electronically to Section2MinerAct@dol.gov. All comments must be received no later than Wednesday, July 5, 2006.

The MINER Act was signed into law by President George W Bush on June 15 this year and has been hailed as the most significant mine safety legislation in 30 years. The new legislation amends the Mine Safety and Health Act of 1977 and contains a number of provisions to improve safety and health in America's mines.

The Miner Act requires operators of underground coal mines to improve accident preparedness. The legislation requires mining companies to develop an emergency response plan specific to each mine they operate, and requires that every mine has at least two rescue teams located within one hour.

The Act also limits the legal liability of rescue team members and the companies that employ them. It increases both civil and criminal penalties for violations of federal mining safety standards and gives the MSHA the ability to temporarily close a mine that fails to pay the penalties or fines.

In addition, the Act calls for several studies into ways to enhance mine safety, as well as the establishment of a new office within the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health devoted to improving mine safety.

For more information, visit the MSHA website at http://www.msha.gov/MinerAct/MinerActSingleSource.asp#comment.

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