Mine Safety Agency OKs Wireless Tracker Associated Press By DIBYA SARKAR January 31, 2008 WASHINGTON (AP) - Federal mine-safety regulators on Thursday said
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, Jan 31, 2008
Mine Safety Agency OKs Wireless
By DIBYA SARKAR
WASHINGTON (AP) Federal mine-safety regulators on Thursday
said they approved the first wireless-tracking system to locate miners trapped
The U.S. Mine Safety and Health Administration said
the technology was developed by Liberty Lake, Wash.-based Venture Design
Services Inc., a subsidiary of Singapore-based Venture Corp. Ltd.
"Since the Sago Mine disaster, MSHA has received
dozens of proposals from manufacturers and distributors of emergency
communication and tracking systems," Richard Stickler, acting assistant
secretary of labor for mine safety and health, said in a press release. The
Venture Design system allows mine operators to track miners underground before
and after an emergency event, he said.
After deadly mine explosions in 2006, Congress
passed legislation that year requiring that mine operators adopt wireless
communications and electronic tracking systems by June 2009.
The wireless requirement was part of comprehensive
safety legislation to improve conditions for the nation's 43,000 underground
coal miners. In a January 2006 explosion at the Sago Mine in West Virginia, 12
men died from carbon monoxide poisoning. In May of that year, five men died in
an underground explosion at the Kentucky Darby mine.
In August 2007, nine people died in two cave-ins at
the Crandall Canyon mine in Utah.
Since 2006, the agency issued 36 new or revised
approvals for communications and tracking systems and is examining 41 more,
including several applications for other wireless systems, an MHSA spokesman
During emergencies, mine operators are required to
shut down power, a cautionary move that also cuts off other mining-tracking
systems. Dave Chirdon, MSHA's supervisor of the electrical safety division, said
Venture's system resorts to battery power for up to 48 hours and more accurately
tracks miners than other systems.
The Big Branch mine in Naugatuck, W.V., has been
using Venture Design's MineTracer Miner Location Monitoring System since May,
said Jim Barrett, the product's research and development manager.
The complex system, which Barrett described as a
cell phone network "blanketing a city that is shrunk down and installed
underground," is designed to work during emergencies, especially in hazardous
The installation cost is about $35,000 per mile, or
$100,000 to $1 million depending on the size of a mine, he
_______________________________ U. S. Mine
Rescue Association www.usmra.com
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