New federal rules start for coal mine exams

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) - New federal rules for examining conditions in underground coal mines became effective Monday.

The Mine Safety and Health Administration proposed the rules in December 2010, months after the Upper Big Branch mine explosion killed 29 West Virginia miners. The rules were published in the Federal Register in April.

The rules require operators to identify and correct nine hazardous conditions and violations of health and safety standards that MSHA says pose the greatest risk to miners. Those standards relate to things that were problems at Upper Big Branch, including ventilation, methane, roof control and accumulation of combustible materials.

MSHA director Joe Main says effective examinations "are the first line of defense to protect miners" in underground coal mines.

(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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