Government calls for stronger mine seals
CHARLESTON, W.Va. Government scientists are calling for stronger seals on underground mines.A report from the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health says methane gas explosions could generate nearly 13 times more destructive force than the current federal standard for seals.
Government regulators have been grappling with questions about seals since 12 miners died in a January 2006 explosion at the Sago Mine in West Virginia. Officials say a lightning strike sparked methane gas in a sealed-off section of the mine. The blast shattered alternative seals made of lighter material than traditional concrete block and prompted the federal mine safety agency to increase the standard for seals in July.
But the new standard may have to be significantly revised if NIOSH is correct.
Almost 14-thousand underground seals across the country are built to the old standard.
Copyright 2007 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.