Outgoing PA Gov. Asks New Governor to make Mine Safety a Priority

Outgoing Pennsylvania Gov. Mark Schweiker sent a letter to Gov.-elect Ed Rendell asking him to make reforming Pennsylvania's Deep Mine Safety Law a priority early in his administration to prevent accidents like the one that happened last July at the Quecreek Mine in Somerset County.

Schweiker said a series of proposed changes to the law will be detailed in a final investigative report on the Quecreek accident, which will be ready the week of Jan. 27.

"Although it was this administration's intent to have the report released before we depart office [Jan. 22], the gravity of this investigation demands that thoroughness and attention to detail take precedent above all else," Schweiker wrote.

Many of the recommendations made in the preliminary report from DEP and Schweiker's special Commission on Abandoned Mine Voids and Mine Safety are already being implemented to protect mine workers from similar accidents, but Schweiker said he hopes Rendell will make updating the 32-year-old deep mine safety law an early priority of his administration.

The commission suggested:

  • Initiating a search for all final mine maps, creating a single commonwealth mine map repository, cataloging each map in its inventory, and archiving and making electronic recordings of all maps;
  • Giving the commonwealth the authority to copy all mine maps in the possession of other people or organizations; and
  • Creating a database of coal-production information and correlating that information with mines in the commonwealth's possession.
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