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Winter Demand for Salt Takes a Toll on Miners

THEY toil not in vain, especially at this time of year. Yet salt miners must be careful not to overdo it.

That's the government's advice for those salt-of-the-earth workers who have been pushed unusually hard this winter to keep up with the record demand for nature's next-best de-icer.

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In the absence of warmth and sunshine, many of the nation's rock-salt mines have had to stay open around-the-clock since early January to keep motorists on track in the slippery Northeast.

A special alert bulletin from the Labor Department's Mine Safety and Health Administration said mine operators should bear in mind that longer work hours and more shiftswill require more caution to avoid underground accidents.

The record demand for rock salt in the winter of 1978-79, when 11.3 million tons were used, is likely to be surpassed in this winter of steady snow and ice and subzero temperatures. Trial focuses on Branch Davidian fire

FLAMES fed by flammable liquid erupted simultaneously in three remote rooms of the Branch Davidian compound, an arson investigator has testified.

Testimony on Wednesday from William Cass bolstered the government's claim that members of the religious group started the April 19 inferno that ended their 51-day standoff with federal agents.

Eleven Branch Davidians are charged in the deaths of four federal agents killed in the Feb. 28 shootout that led to the siege. Six Branch Davidians are believed to have died in the gun battle.

Mr. Cass reached his conclusions after he studied videotape of the fire and examined the corpse-strewn site near Waco, where David Koresh and more than 80 followers died. Some Branch Davidians blamed the FBI for sparking the flames with tear gas that was intended to drive the holdouts from the compound.

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But Cass blamed ``a distribution of flammable liquids'' for fires that started at the same time in a second-floor computer room, a first-floor dining area and a first-floor chapel. New air-emission rules delayed

CARMAKERS can wait until 1996 before being forced to comply with the state's new air-emissions regulations, a New York appeals court says.

Wednesday's decision by the Second United States Circuit Court of Appeals in Manhattan represents a one-year extension.

While giving carmakers a reprieve, the court also criticized them for failing to work harder to develop cars that don't spew toxic fumes.

The issue of the new emissions rules wound up in the court when the Motor Vehicle Manufacturers Association sued New York State to keep the regulations from being implemented.

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