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WASHINGTON (AP) -- House-passed legislation orders a government study into the technology needed to overcome the circumstances of miners being trapped far underground without the ability to communicate with would-be rescuers.
The bill was approved by voice vote Monday. It commissions the National Institute of Standards and Technology to research, develop and demonstrate next-generation miner tracking and communications systems and to promote the creation of standards regarding underground communications to protect miners.
Last August, six miners were trapped 1,800 feet below the surface of the Crandall Canyon mine in Utah. It was never learned if they survived the initial cave-in and their bodies have yet to be recovered. Three others were killed as rescuers tried to tunnel toward the trapped miners.
U.S. Representative Jim Matheson (a Utah Democrat) says he wondered how it was the location of the six men could not be pinpointed at the time. It's because, he says, the technology doesn't exist.
Communicating with miners working in deep coal mines is technically difficult because coal absorbs radio waves.
The bill on communications now goes to the Senate for consideration.
(Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)