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US TO FINE 800 COAL MINES FOR FALSE DATA

The US government will seek stiff penalties against nearly half the nation's underground coal mines for tampering with dust samples used to determine the risk of black-lung disease to miners, the Washington Post said yesterday. Labor Secretary Lynn Martin was set to announce yesterday that the government will seek major civil penalties against the operators of more than 800 of approximately 2,000 underground coal mines in the US.

Federal inspectors have found more than 5,000 cases of sampling fraud in recent months, the paper said.

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In many cases mine operators reportedly blew away or vacuumed some of the dust from government sampling equipment before submitting it for inspection.