Mine safety board offers change in methane rules - WVVA TV Bluefield Beckley WV News, Weather and Sports

Mine safety board offers change in methane rules

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) -- A state board is offering a change to a key portion of a mine safety bill dealing with methane monitoring.

The state Board of Coal Mine Health and Safety decided Wednesday to seek a requirement that mining equipment shut off automatically when methane gas is detected underground at concentrations of 1.5 percent.

Methane is explosive and considered a threat when it reaches a 5 percent to 15 percent concentration.

Proposed state regulations would have cut that to 1.25 percent if the levels are sustained. Federal rules require equipment shutdowns at concentrations of 2 percent or more.

Watts says the board's goal was to provide "an increased level of safety."

The change is in response to the 2010 Upper Big Branch mine explosion in Raleigh County that killed 29 miners.

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