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DOL/MSHA News Release
Mine Safety and Health Administration
Contact: Suzy Bohnert
Phone: (202) 693-9420

Released Monday, December 22, 2003

MSHA Announces $3.9 Million in Grants
to Digitize Abandoned Mine Maps and Improve Miner Safety


ARLINGTON, VA - The U.S. Department of Labor's Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) today announced $3.9 million in grants to 13 states to establish an electronic system of digitizing underground maps for abandoned mines, helping to ensure miner safety nationwide.

"We are grateful to the United States Congress for providing the funding needed to address the problem of undetected underground mines," said Dave D. Lauriski, assistant secretary of labor for mine safety and health. "States receiving these funds not only have a large number of mines, but have demonstrated a commitment to address the problem of inaccurate underground mine maps to prevent another Quecreek-type of situation."

Of the $3.9 million, $1.2 million will be awarded to West Virginia; $1 million each to Kentucky and Pennsylvania; $317,000 to Virginia; $52,000 each to Ohio, Utah, Illinois, and Indiana; $51,000 each to Colorado and Alabama; $50,000 each to Maryland and New Mexico; and $25,000 to New York.

The funding will allow states to provide information to mine operators electronically about the location of abandoned underground mines. At the underground coal mine known as Quecreek near Somerset, Pa., nine miners were trapped in July 2002 for three days by in-rushing water. The mine operator had an inaccurate map of a nearby, abandoned underground mine.

"This is good news for the mining industry as we may now begin to tackle this serious problem in earnest," Lauriski added. "Missing or inaccurate mine maps, along with undetectable mine voids, presents a significant threat to the safety of working miners in America today. Fortunately, we now have a solid foundation for generating a solution to this problem."

MSHA distributed video public service announcements in August 2003 requesting copies of old mine maps from residents in mining areas. For additional information on submitting an old mine map, which an agency official will pick up, copy, and return, please phone MSHA at 1-888-753-9427.

For additional information on this program, please visit MSHA's Web site at www.msha.gov.