"Emergency planning is critical for all mining operations if an emergency were to occur and lives were at stake," said David Dye, acting assistant secretary of labor for mine safety and health. "This database should prove to be a valuable resource for safety personnel and the public in preparing for mine emergency responses. This database ties into 12 million businesses nationwide both mining businesses and vendors that supply goods to the industry. It also fulfills an e-government initiative to help make government more accessible to people."
The Mine Emergency Operations (MEO) database can be searched by service provider and specific category, including vendors, suppliers, mine emergency operations team members, state agencies and emergency contact personnel.
The public also can search by location or a specific description of the desired equipment or service. Vendor information appears on-screen based on the radius distance from the ZIP code of the mine emergency. For instance, if someone wanted to find a 24-inch drill, the system would list companies that might be located within 10, 50 or 100 miles from the site of the emergency.
Companies listed in the MEO database are part of the North American Industry Classification System, which has codes to provide a broad grouping of similar industries. Data will be updated quarterly.
The project results from an alliance between MSHA, the National Mining Association (NMA) and the Bituminous Coal Operators Association (BCOA).
To develop the database, MSHA worked with NMA and BCOA representatives, starting with conceptualization in early 2005 and testing during the development phase in July 2005. The groups noted what features they wanted for the Web site. Then, MSHA officials developed solutions and produced a final design for the database.
The database is a result of the 2002 Quecreek Mine incident, in which nine miners were trapped in a southwestern Pennsylvania coal mine after the miners accidentally broke through a wall into an abandoned, flooded mine. Rescue workers at the site broke drills while drilling rescue holes. The hurried searches for a vendor stocking replacement drills and a helicopter to get the drills there immediately were impeded by lack of ready access to emergency sources.