Yours truly, several weeks ago:
Isn’t there some way to equip every miner with some sort of signalling device that would track their movements in mine? You walk into the mine, you put one on.
No more looking for survivors (should there be any), because you know where they are.
And if this is not technically possible, why not just pre-position supplies every 150 yards in the mine? You know- a big box of masks and batteries and potable water.
And three weeks later, Gov. Manchin acts:
Gov. Joe Manchin called for the continued review of West Virginia’s coal mine safety laws today after signing legislation that was written in reaction to the deaths of 14 miners this month.
Manchin said the new safety provisions, which he hopes to have in place by March 1, will make West Virginia “the benchmark everyone looks to when they mine.”***
West Virginia’s new mine safety law mandates that miners be provided with emergency communicators and tracking devices. It also requires mine operators to store extra air supplies underground. A Mine and Industrial Accident Rapid Response System, featuring a statewide all-hours hot line to trigger rescue efforts more quickly, would also be created.
Some companies already provide extra air supplies, but in most cases, miners only carry canisters that provide up to an hour’s worth of oxygen.
Most mines in the United States still rely heavily on hard-wired communication systems, which can be damaged in explosions and fires. Rescue teams were unable to communicate with the trapped Sago miners because of such damage. Two-way wireless systems are considered unreliable underground.
The law requires mines to install low frequency, wireless systems that connect miners to the surface through a series of transponders. Mounted on headlamp battery packs that miners already wear on their belts, these systems would provide one-way text messages alerting them of emergencies and escape routes.
Also, miners would be required to wear battery-powered electronic tracking devices similar to ones used in Australia. The devices would transmit a miner’s unique identification number.
As for the rapid response system, the new law threatens $100,000 fines against coal companies that fail to report an emergency within 15 minutes. At Sago, company officials placed the first calls to state and federal safety officials more than an hour after the explosion. It was not immediately clear when the first calls were placed after the Aracoma fire.
It seems what was missing was not technology, but willpower, which is truly scandalous. Good for Governor Manchin for getting this bill passed, and for reading this website.