Local Mining Company Takes Issue with New Regulations

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By WSIL Manager

PERCY -- The mining industry has made a lot of improvements over the years to keep miners safe; the Mine Safety and Health Administration can be thanked for that. But its latest regulations to battle Black Lung disease are getting some push back.

 
"The benefits to our employees are not entirely clear. This is really a law designed for another coal mining region," says Knight Hawk Coal Vice President of Operations Josh Carter.
 
He says the Illinois Basin doesn't see as many cases of Black Lung and should not be subjected to the new standards that reduce underground coal dust by half a milligram per cubic meter of air. Carter says it will create a big cost for Knight Hawk.
 
"We're a small, small mining organization, and I can tell you it's going to be significant. It's going to be noticeable on the bottom line what's going to have to be done to comply with it."
 
SIU mine engineering professor Dr. Paul Chugh says coal companies have known this was coming for a while now. And southern Illinois still sees Black Lung, even though the soil does help.
 
"Our floor material here, they have a lot of clay in it, so some of our coal particles are coated with those clays, which help reduce the incidence of black lung," says Chugh.
 
For the last decade, SIU has been working on new technology to limit coal dust  Chugh says the university will be working with local mining companies to help them meet the new standards, because he says the dust doesn't just hurt miners, but the industry as well.
 
"Coal dust standards, if we do not deal with them effectively, they will lower our productivity."
   
The new regulations take affect August 1st. The changes will be phased in over the next two years. Professor Chugh says SIU has developed an education and training program to help reduce dust. They hope to soon offer it to coal companies.
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