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Air Shaft OK Saves 700 Coal Miners’ Jobs

Tue, 01/17/2012 - 5:14am

WHITELEY, Pa. (AP) — Federal and state environmental officials have approved construction of an air shaft at a southwestern Pennsylvania coal mine, safeguarding the jobs of 700 miners.

Alpha Natural Resources sought to add the air shaft to its Cumberland Mine near Interstate 79 in Whiteley, Greene County, after workers picketed several years ago claiming ventilation was unsafe. But environmental regulators opposed the new digging over concerns it would pollute groundwater.

The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports Tuesday (http://bit.ly/wmJrNK ) that U.S. Rep. Mark Critz, D-Pa., intervened when he learned jobs were at stake if the federal Environmental Protection Agency did not approve the project. The approval will require the mine to limit chloride emissions.

United Mine Workers district vice president Edward Yankovich Jr. says the lack of EPA approval would have been "catastrophic for our 700 workers."

Information from: Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, www.post-gazette.com

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