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Federal Government holds local hearing on new mining rule

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(The U.S. National Archives via Flickr Creative Commons)
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By Mandi Rice, St. Louis Public Radio

ST. LOUIS – The federal government is requiring coal mines to do more to prevent explosions.

Patricia Silvey of the Mine Safety and Health Administration led a hearing on the issue Tuesday in St. Louis.

Inflammable rock dust has long been used to prevent coal explosions in mines.

Silvey said the new standard would require companies to apply more rock dust in their mines.

"It would do one of two things, decrease the chance of an explosion or if an explosion happens to occur, it would reduce the severity of the explosion," Silvey said.

The rule, which is already in effect as an emergency measure, requires that 80 percent of the dust in a coal mine must be flame resistant. The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health advised the change in August.

The United Mine Workers and a public citizen spoke Tuesday in favor of the change. Representatives of area mine companies attended the meeting, but none of them testified.

The Department of Labor will hold three more hearings around the country before it releases the final version of the regulation next June.

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