Contact: Dirk Fillpot
Phone Number: (202) 693-9406
Release Number: 06-125-NAT
MSHA Acting Administrator Pledges Comprehensive Investigation into Sago Disaster
WASHINGTON — David G. Dye, the acting administrator of the U.S. Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA), testified before the U.S. Senate Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education today on MSHA's role and response in connection with the Sago Mine disaster in West Virginia in which 12 miners died. He also briefed the committee on the federal agency's activities in the fatal mine accident in Logan County, West Virginia.
During the hearing, Dye announced that:
- MSHA has initiated a Request for Information, to seek public comment on new and potential mine rescue technologies;
- MSHA has submitted to Congress a legislative proposal to dramatically increase penalties for egregious mine safety violations; and
- MSHA will seek additional funds for mine rescue technology in its FY07 budget request.
"All of us at MSHA deeply grieve the loss of these miners' lives, and I want to assure their families and friends that we are conducting an uncompromising investigation into this accident," Dye said. "We will uncover the truth of why this tragedy happened, and how we can best protect miners in the future."
Dye spoke about MSHA's aggressive enforcement record, both generally and at the Sago Mine prior to the accident. Dye noted that:
- From 2004 to 2005, MSHA's on-site inspection hours at Sago Mine increased 84 percent, from 405 to 744 hours.
- MSHA inspectors issued 208 citations, orders and safeguards at Sago Mine in 2005, including "withdrawal orders' that completely shut down areas of the mine on 18 occasions.
- From CY 2000 to CY 2005, total citations and orders issued by MSHA at all mines increased by 6 percent (from 120,050 to 127,682).
- Total citations and orders at coal mines increased by 18 percent (from 58,304 to 68,818) from CY 2000 to CY 2005.
- From CY 2000 to CY 2005, total "significant and substantial" citations and orders issued at coal mines increased by 11 percent (23,994 to 26,779).
Robert Friend, acting deputy assistant secretary of MSHA; Ray McKinney, MSHA's administrator for coal mine safety and health, and Ed Clair, associate solicitor for mine safety and health, also testified today.
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