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Obama's vow to West Virginia coal miners at service: better safety

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“All explosions are preventable,” said MSHA administrator Kevin Stricklin. “It’s just making sure you have things in place to prevent one. It’s quite evident that something went very wrong here for us to have the magnitude of this explosion.”

Potential reforms

The blast, which occurred 1,000 feet below ground, left behind what West Virginia Gov. Joe Manchin described as a “horrific” scene of twisted train rails and other equipment. There were only two survivors from the 31-member crew.

The Obama administration has not yet outlined its proposals for reform. But a few key changes are among the more probable, says Patrick McGinley, a law professor at West Virginia University who enforced mine safety laws in Pennsylvania as a former special assistant attorney general.

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