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MSHA News Release: [03/01/2006]
Contact: Dirk Fillpot
Phone Number: (202) 693-9406
Release Number: 06-370-NAT

MSHA and West Virginia Announce Dates of Joint Public Hearings on Sago Mine Disaster Investigation

ARLINGTON, Va. - The U.S. Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) today announced that public hearings on January's Sago Mine disaster have been scheduled May 2, at the request of the victims' families. The hearings in Buckhannon, W.Va., originally were scheduled March 14.

"The families of the fallen Sago miners and the public deserve to know the progress we have made in determining the cause of this disaster. MSHA hopes these public hearings perform that vital informational function," said David G. Dye, acting administrator of MSHA. "MSHA's investigation into the Sago Mine disaster will be thorough, and the full investigative report will be made available to the miners' families and the public once our investigation is completed."

The joint federal-state hearings, hosted by MSHA and the West Virginia Office of Miners' Health, Safety & Training, will be held at the West Virginia Wesleyan College in Buckhannon.

"Several of the miners' families asked for a postponement until the federal and state investigative teams have developed more information. After consultation with investigators and state legislators, I concurred," said Davitt McAteer, special advisor to West Virginia Gov. Joe Manchin on the Sago and Alma investigations. "It's a complex investigation and, as the miners' families have said, it's more important to determine the facts carefully and thoroughly than to act before all the facts are in."

Gov. Manchin added: "I'm confident that public hearings held in May will be even more useful in providing crucial information to buttress the legislation we've already enacted in West Virginia. It's important to get mine safety and disaster prevention right, and I've promised the miners' families that we will settle for nothing less. That's a promise we'll keep."

Twelve miners died following an explosion on Jan. 2 at the Sago Mine in West Virginia.

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