Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Coal Miners' Lawsuit Seeking Safety Measures Is Dismissed


A federal judge yesterday threw out a lawsuit by coal miners demanding that the government do more to ensure miners have working oxygen supplies and know how to use them.

The lawsuit was filed in June after Congress had overhauled mine safety rules in response to the collapse of West Virginia's Sago Mine, where 12 miners died in January.

The United Mine Workers of America had sought to force the Mine Safety and Health Administration to conduct periodic checks of oxygen units and provide emergency training for all underground coal miners.

But U.S. District Judge John D. Bates said the lawsuit did not meet the legal requirements for forcing a court order.

"The loss of lives, and the risks miners presently face, weigh heavily in public discourse and are taken seriously by this court," Bates wrote. "But the tragedy of those events, and the need for greater protection described by plaintiff, cannot substitute for the requirements of the law."

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