Monday, January 23, 2006
Posted 9:33 PM by
The Senate appropriations commitee
held a hearing on the Sago tragedy today. The most interesting part was when
the Senator Tom Harken asked about new technologies
that could help locate miners and communicate with them after an accident,
Acting Assistant Secretary for MSHA, Robert Dye said
that the technologies still hard problems.
Then up came Davitt McAteer, head of MSHA under
"To act like these devices aren't ready to go is just plain wrong," he said, adding, small low-frequency tracking devices and one-way text messaging had both already been approved for use and had contributed to saving lives at several mines that voluntarily adopted their use.
McAteer said that the messaging
devices would cost up to $150,000 for a mine the size of Sago (or $750 per
miner) and the transponders used to locate lost miners would only cost $20 per
miner. McAteer said that no mines in the
Harkin responded, "Gosh, I hate to regulate everythinhg, but dogone it, if they're not going to do it, we've got to force them to do it."
"No miner's family is going to have to endure what we
all endured for 90 hours over the past three weeks," the governor said.
If the 14 miners who died in two accidents since Jan. 2 had been wearing tracking devices, "we could have concentrated all our efforts, all our resources on that one location," Manchin said.
The legislation also required extra supplies of oxygen to be placed around the mine and
Manchin also proposed to fine coal companies $100,000 if they fail to report an emergency within 15 minutes. At Sago, company officials placed the first calls to state and federal safety officials more than an hour after the explosion. It was not immediately clear when the first calls were placed in the Aracoma fire.