Rockefeller re-introduces mine safety bill
July 26, 2012 ·
More than two years have passed since the Upper Big Branch tragedy, killed 29 West Virginia coal miners, and efforts in Congress to pass a bill that would correct safety problems revealed in the disaster have stalled so far.
Senator Jay Rockefeller is reintroducing the Robert C. Byrd Mine and Workplace Safety and Health Act. It has new provisions aimed at fixing more of the glaring safety issues revealed in the wake of the Upper Big Branch mine disaster.
Since the disaster, there have been several congressional hearings on mine safety.
Investigations issued by federal, state and independent entities indicate that the tragedy could have been prevented.
According to a news release from Senator Rockefeller’s office, both Congress and the Mine Safety and Health Administration have enacted some targeted laws and regulations to improve the health and safety of coal miners, but congress has fallen short to pass comprehensive coal mine safety legislation.
The release goes on to say that this time, the bill includes “provisions that specifically address problems that the investigations into the tragedy at Upper Big Branch brought to light” including prohibiting mine operators from keeping two sets of safety books, strict penalties for unsafe ventilation changes, limits miners’ exposure to black lung disease. More than 70 percent of the victims tested at UBB had signs of black lung disease.
Families of the victims traveled to Washington D.C. last month to urge lawmakers to pass mine safety legislation.
President of the United Mine Workers of America Cecil Roberts is already encouraging the Senate to act quickly and pass this legislation.