Amends the Federal Mine Safety and Health Act of 1977 (Mine Act) to require emergency response plans, to be in approved status, to:
(1) provide for, within 120 days after enactment of this Act, a post communication system between underground and surface personnel and an electronic tracking system permitting surface personnel to locate persons trapped underground that utilizes a system at least as effective as a leaky feeder or wireless mesh type communication and tracking system currently in use in the industry; and
(2) be revised to incorporate new technology that the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) certifies can be added to the existing system to improve its ability to facilitate post-accident communication with, or tracking of, miners.
Requires such systems to be enhanced physically, electronically, or redundantly to improve their survivability in the event of a mine disaster.
Prohibits miners from being disciplined based on information obtained from an electronic communications and tracking system.
Provides that the requirement that a plan provide for supplies of breathable air for individuals trapped underground may not be satisfied by the placement of an order within a company for future delivery of a portable refuge chamber or other means of providing such emergency supplies of breathable air.
Requires the Secretary of Labor to issue interim final regulations, consistent with the design criteria recommended by NIOSH, requiring each emergency response plan to provide for the installation of portable rescue chambers or refuge shelters carved out of the mine working and sealed with bulkheads.
Requires a portable refuge chamber to be installed and maintained within 500 feet of the nearest working face in each working section of an underground coal mine.
Amends the Mine Improvement and New Emergency Response Act of 2006 to repeal provisions concerning standards relating to the sealing of abandoned areas in mines.
Requires the Secretary to:
(1) inspect seals during construction to ensure the mine operator is complying with the seal plan; and
(2) issue rules regarding approval, design, construction, inspection, maintenance and monitoring of underground coal mine seals.
Requires such regulations to provide that:
(1) seal sampling pipes shall be composed of materials that minimize the risk of transmitting any electrical charge and no conductive materials may be used to line boreholes within three feet of the surface; and
(2) an action plan for sealing and repair be established that will include specific actions the mine operator will take to protect miners immediately after sealing or repair takes place, which shall be reviewed by the Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA); and
(3) methane pressures behind seals required to be monitored shall be maintained in such a manner as to ensure that normal pressure variations that can be reasonable anticipated in the area of the seal do not bring the methane-air mixture into an appropriate safety range surrounding the known explosive range of such mixtures.
Directs the Secretary to: (1) publish interim final regulations to enhance the survivability of underground mine ventilation controls; (2) require that stoppings be constructed in a specified manner.
Requires: (1) NIOSH to issue recommendations as to whether changes to rock dusting requirements are necessary to ensure an equivalent level of protection in light of any changes to the size and composition of coal dust since these requirements were established; and (2) the Secretary to take appropriate action, including the issuance of an emergency temporary standard if warranted, to respond to such recommendations.
Requires the Secretary to publish, within 90 days, interim final rules to revise the requirements for flame resistant conveyor belts to ensure that they meet NIOSH's most recent recommendations and are designed to limit smoke and toxic emissions.
Exempts conveyor belts that:
(1) were ordered, in a mine's inventory, or installed prior to enactment of this Act or that were ordered after enactment if the Secretary certifies that the mine operator was unable to obtain a belt meeting such requirements; or
(2) have been in use for more than five years and have been inspected annually by a certified professional to ensure they are free from visible defects that could cause failure or possible ignition.
Requires the Secretary, no later than June 20, 2008, to revise belt air regulations to require that belt haulage entries not be used to ventilate active working places in coal mines, regardless of the date opened.
Authorizes the Secretary to agree to a modification of such requirement if the mine operator:
(1) establishes that significant safety constraints require such usage; and
(2) agrees to comply with criteria established by the Secretary that includes the conditions recommended by the Technical Study Panel.
(1) mine operators to be required to implement a communication program at each of their facilities to ensure that each person entering the operation is made aware at the start of that person's shift of the current conditions of the mine and of that person's specific worksite;
(2) operators' agents who are responsible for ensuring safe and healthful working conditions to communicate with those replacing them on the conditions they observed during their shift, including conditions that are abnormal or hazardous;
(3) oncoming agents, prior to entering the mine or other workplace, to meet with all members of their crew and inform them of the general conditions at the operation and in their work area; and
(4) such agents, in the event an operation is idle prior to the start of a shift, to meet with the individuals who were responsible for examining the mine to obtain the necessary information.
Requires an operator of an underground mine to install atmospheric monitoring systems in underground areas where miners normally work and travel that provide real-time information regarding carbon monoxide levels, and that can withstand explosions and fires.
Requires each miner who is working alone for part of a shift to be equipped with a multi-gas detector that measures current levels of methane, oxygen, and carbon monoxide.
Requires the National Academy of Sciences to submit to the Secretary and to Congress recommendations on: (1) actions that need to be taken to strengthen existing law to ensure that miners are protected from the risks of lightning strikes near a mine; (2) adopting existing technology to the mining environment to minimize such risks; and (3) research needed for improved technology.
Requires the Secretary to ensure the appropriate use of roof screen in belt entries, travel roads, and designated intake and return escapeways.
Sets forth regulations concerning roof screening requirements and barrier reduction or pillar extraction plans.
Requires an operator to have a current and approved reduction or extraction plan, or both, before performing reduction or extraction activities.
Directs the Secretary to approve such plans only if they:
(1) provide adequate protection and minimize the risks for miners engaged in such activity, reflecting engineering analysis, computer simulations, and consultations with technical experts; and
(2) comply with requirements that may be adopted by the Secretary for such activities, including requirements related to the depth of the mine, geology of the mine, mine height and methods, and emergency response capabilities.
Requires a copy of such plan to be provided to representatives of miners and authorizes such representatives to provide comments to the Secretary, who is required to respond.
Requires the Secretary, before approving reduction or extraction plans for depths below 1,500 feet and in mines with a history of mountain bumps, to establish a special internal review process that requires:
(1) operators to notify MSHA before commencement of operations to ensure miners are trained; and
(2) the Secretary to observe such operations for a sufficient period of time to ensure that the mine operator is complying with the plan.
Authorizes the Secretary to preclude or halt the commencement of such operations when the safety of the miners comes into question.
Requires NIOSH to submit to the Secretary and Congress recommendations for:
(1) actions to strengthen existing requirements to ensure that miners are protected from ground control hazards, including the special hazards associated with barrier reduction and pillar extraction;
(2) adopting existing technology to the mining environment to improve miner protections during barrier reduction and pillar extraction, during mining at depths below 1,000 feet, and during secondary mining of coal resources; and
(3) research needed for improved technology to improve miner protections during such operations.
Requires the Secretary to:
(1) establish a self-contained self-rescuers inspection program to randomly remove and test samples of each model of self-rescue device used in an underground coal mine in order to ensure that such devices are working in accordance with approved criteria;
(2) require a manufacturer of a self-rescue device and the mine operator who owns a device to contact the Secretary immediately upon notification of any potential problem with such devices and to provide notice to the representative of miners at the affected operation; and
(3) notify immediately operators of underground coal mines if the Secretary detects or is advised of problems with such devices.
Applies the regulations concerning conveyor belts in underground coal mines to conveyor belts and seals of abandoned areas in underground metal and nonmetal mines.
Applies the regulations concerning the approval, design, construction, inspection, maintenance, and monitoring of underground coal mine seals to seals in underground metal and nonmetal mines which have been classified by the Secretary as a category I, III, or V mine because they naturally emit defined quantities of methane.
Requires the Secretary to establish an advisory committee on regulations applicable to underground metal and nonmetal mines.
Sets forth priorities for MSHA's approval center.
Requires NIOSH to give priority in its research to specified technologies that could help miners in an emergency.