West Virginia Lawmakers Pass Mine Safety Measure

March 8, 2012

West Virginia will update its mine safety laws in the wake of the worst U.S. coal mining disaster in four decades.

The House of Delegates sent the measure to Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin. Delegates approved several changes made by the Senate. Both chambers passed the bill unanimously.

Tomblin proposed the legislation. 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.