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MSHA News Release No. 2000-0623
Mine Safety and Health Administration
Contact: Amy Louviere
Phone: (703) 235-1452

Released Friday, June 23, 2000

Eastern Associated Coal's Southern Appalachia Mine Takes Top Honors in Coal Mine Rescue Contest

Eastern Associated Coal Corporation's Southern Appalachia Mine from Twilight, W.Va., took first place in the Ohio Valley Mine Rescue Contest held this week in St. Clairsville, Ohio. Consol Pennsylvania Coal Company's Enlow Fork Mine from West Finley, Pa., and RAG Emerald Resources Lt., Emerald Mine from Waynesburg, Pa., finished second and third, respectively. Twenty-one teams from seven states participated in the competition, second only in size to the national coal mine rescue contest held on odd-numbered years in Louisville, Ky. The contest is sponsored by the U.S. Department of Labor's Mine Safety and Health Administration.

Southern Appalachia Mine also took top honors in the bench competition, during which miners who maintain rescue equipment must thoroughly inspect breathing devices that have been purposely tampered with and must correct those defects as quickly as possible. Enlow Fork Mine from West Finley, Pa., and Lodestar Energy's Baker Mine from Clay, Ky., finished second and third, respectively.

Mine rescue competitions require six-member teams to solve a hypothetical mine emergency problem--such as a fire, explosion or cave-in--while judges rate them on their adherence to safety procedures and how quickly they complete specific tasks.

Mine rescue training began in the United States in 1910, the year the U.S. Bureau of Mines was created. Joseph A. Holmes, the bureau's first director, sought a training vehicle that would provide the mining industry with a cadre of mine rescue specialists who would be prepared to respond to mine disasters. The training efforts evolved into local and regional competitions and, a year later, a national contest.