Union, Dems Pan MSHA Belt-Air Proposal

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) - Coal mines could continuing using
conveyer belt tunnels to pump fresh air underground under new rules
proposed by the federal Mine Safety and Health Administration.

Director Richard Stickler says Thursday's proposal should
significantly reduce the danger of belt fires. Among other things,
MSHA would require flame-resistant belts and fire prevention and
detection in tunnels.

The United Mine Workers and congressional Democrats quickly
panned the proposal. Rep. Nick Rahall says belt air should be
banned in most circumstances, while the UMW says it should be
banned outright.

The proposal is required by federal legislation passed after
high-profile accidents in 2006 that killed 19 miners, including 12
at West Virginia's Sago Mine.

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