Monday, January 09, 2006

Byrd wants open hearings into Sago Mine explosion

AP Wire: "CHARLESTON, W.Va. - Officials from the federal Mine Safety and Health Administration will be called before a Senate Appropriations Committee hearing before the end of the month to testify about the agency's response to the Sago Mine disaster, West Virginia Sen. Robert C. Byrd said Monday.
"The families of the Sago miners deserve to know what happened in that mine. Just as importantly, miners and their families across this country want to know that steps are being taken to prevent others from ever experiencing such pain," Byrd said in a statement released by his office.
Spokesman Tom Gavin said Byrd wants to know why it took so long to get a backup rescue team on the ground after an initial team arrived at the mine, and why MSHA was apparently not more involved in the immediate hours after the explosion.
Last week, 12 miners died following an explosion at the International Coal Group Inc.'s Sago Mine near Tallmansville. The surviving miner, Randal McCloy Jr., remains hospitalized in Morgantown.
Byrd, the top Democrat on the Senate Appropriations Committee, is working with Sens. Tom Harkin of Iowa, and Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania, to set a date for the hearings, Gavin said.
Specter is chairman of the committee's Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education and Related Agencies, which has jurisdiction over MSHA. Harkin is the top Democrat on the subcommittee.
Byrd also would support MSHA holding public hearings as it investigates the mine disaster, Gavin said.
The senator believes "that people should have a chance to hear for themselves what the investigation results are," he said."

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