LEXINGTON, Ky. (AP) - Disturbing images have been presented by an eastern Kentucky coal miner to a federal panel hearing testimony in Lexington on a rule requiring stronger seals for abandoned sections of underground mines.
Underground mine seals are supposed to block off explosive gases, but a home movie shown today indicates they are weak, cracked and damaged, allowing water to gush through them.
Letcher County coal miner Charles Howard taped the leaky seals at his mine in April. He said the seals are supposed to protect everyone in the mine from whatever is behind them. He urged the panel to make the temporary rule a stronger, permanent one.
About 372 of the nation's 670 underground coal mines seal abandoned areas and those mines employ more than 70 percent of the nation's nearly 43-thousand underground miners.
The rule requires operators to build far stronger seals and monitor the atmosphere behind them for explosive gases and, in some cases, to evacuate miners.
The deaths of 17 Kentucky and West Virginia and Kentucky miners killed last year by methane explosions prompted MSHA to adopt the rule immediately rather than follow the normal yearlong procedure. Both the Kentucky Darby and Sago Mine blasts occurred in abandoned, sealed mine sections.
(Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)