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DOL/MSHA News Release 02-521
Mine Safety and Health Administration
Contact: Amy Louviere
Phone: (202) 693-9423

Released Tuesday, September 10, 2002

News Release

Quecreek Investigation Onsite Phase Nears Completion

NEW STANTON, Pa. - Federal and state investigators have inspected the area where nine miners recently were trapped for 77 hours in the Quecreek Mine, Somerset County, Pa., and examined a breach between the Quecreek Mine and what is believed to be the abandoned Saxman Mine. Investigators have completed mapping the mine for pertinent information, damage and high water levels, except for one section of the mine where water continues to block access.

"The investigation is proceeding well, and investigators will carefully review all the information collected before drawing conclusions, " said David D. Lauriski, assistant secretary of labor for mine safety and health.

Investigators found the breakthrough was 4 feet high and 6 feet wide.

In addition, Lauriski said: "It appears to be a map of a portion of the Saxman Mine which is not the same as the map that was in the possession of the Quecreek mine operator," said Lauriski. "We're not sure how accurate this map is and we're not sure of its scale. The investigators are studying it closely and comparing it with the actual underground workings."

The map was found by MSHA investigators at the Windber Coal Heritage Center museum in Winber, Pa.

MSHA also has conducted a risk assessment of mines throughout the country to determine potential for similar breakthroughs and is working with mine operators to ensure that necessary steps are taken to protect against these incidents. The agency is presently developing an agenda for a symposium on prevention of inundations that will be scheduled next month, Lauriski said.

See Statement by Assistant Secretary of Labor Dave Lauriski