MSHA Puts Pressure On Manufacturers To Speed Air Packs Production

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) - The federal Mine Safety and Health Administration says it's taking action to get more emergency air packs delivered to underground coal mines.

A federal law passed after last year's fatal Sago Mine explosion and other deadly accidents requires two air packs to be readily available to each miner. But eight months after the President Bush signed the legislation, mine operators and regulators say they're waiting for thousands of the devices to be delivered.

Hoping to speed the process, MSHA director Richard Stickler says air pack manufacturers have agreed to fill orders for mines that don't have two available to each miner first. Stickler says mines should call manufacturers if they fall into that category.

Only three companies make the devices for U-S mines and two of them say orders are backlogged until October.

But the president of one of them, Scott Shearer of Monroeville, Pennsylvania-based C-S-E Corporation, says M-SHA's plan sounds reasonable.

Officials with the third manufacturer, Pittsburgh-based Draeger Safety, say they have approximately eight thousand air packs available for shipping, but little interest from mine operators.

Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved

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