W.Va. Senate Oks mine bill; final passage near

AP News
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Posted: Mar 06, 2012 1:21 PM
W.Va. Senate Oks mine bill; final passage near

West Virginia is close to updating its mine safety laws in the wake of the worst U.S. coal mining disaster in four decades.

A unanimous state Senate sent wide-ranging safety legislation back to the House of Delegates on Tuesday. The House must approve several technical changes before it goes to Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin.

Tomblin proposed the measure. Its provisions include several targeting methane gas and coal dust levels. Both played roles in the 2010 Upper Big Branch disaster that killed 29 West Virginia miners.

The bill requires senior mine officials to sign off on safety logs regularly. It increases penalties for safety violations, and threatens a new felony offense when such violations cause a death.

Mine employees in safety-sensitive jobs would also face random drug screenings under the bill.