Worker Safety: Black Marks For the Mines

Black Marks For the Mines

While catastrophic cave-ins are relatively rare in the U.S., about 260,000 former miners suffer from another killer: black lung disease. One reason could be that mine operators routinely circumvent air-safety standards established in 1969 to regulate the amount of coal dust in the mines. Now the government is cracking down. In Virginia last week, 13 coal companies and 15 people pleaded guilty to falsifying air samples to understate levels of coal dust. The companies face fines of as much as $500,000 each. The individuals could be imprisoned for five years and fined $250,000. Prosecutors say many more guilty pleas are forthcoming.

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