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DOL/MSHA News Release No. 03-60
Mine Safety and Health Administration
Contact: Rodney Brown
Phone: (202) 693-9425

Released Friday, February 7, 2003

Tri-State Group to Address Mining Concerns in Appalachia

ARLINGTON, Va. - The Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) has launched a new initiative within its Coal Mine Safety and Health activity to address the safety and health concerns of coal mines in West Virginia, Virginia and Kentucky. The Tri-State Initiative will cover these three states that comprise the largest number of coal mines and coal miners nationwide, and experienced 66 percent of all coal mining fatalities last year.

"The Tri-State Initiative will function as a support group between MSHA and the state agencies. We will do this by ensuring that we make the maximum use of, and avoid duplication of, federal and state resources, analysis and targeted initiatives," said Secretary of Labor Elaine L. Chao. Chao pointed out that MSHA already has received a great deal of cooperation from the Virginia Department of Mines, Minerals and Energy; West Virginia's Office of Miners' Health, Safety and Training; and the Kentucky Department of Mines and Minerals.

The Tri-State group's task is to support the Agency's overarching goals in fatal and injury rate reductions and reducing miner exposures to excessive levels of respirable dust and noise.

The Tri-State Initiative Group will draw from existing MSHA resources at the Mine Health and Safety Academy in Beckley, West Va., the districts in the Tri-State area, Technical Support, Educational Field Services and the newly formed Small Mines group. Heading the group is Jesse Cole, former director of Eastern Operations in MSHA's Education Field Services organization.

"This initiative is another step forward in utilizing all the tools the Mine Act provides," stated Dave D. Lauriski assistant secretary of labor for mine safety and health. "It is just one more avenue toward our goal of instilling safety as a value throughout the mining industry and ensuring that every miner returns home safely at the end of every working shift."