Acquisition and development for research facility proposed for Mace site

Jaynell Graham

An open house-style public meeting is scheduled for Wednesday, March 6, from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. at the Linwood Library to make available a Draft Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for the proposed acquisition of a site in Mace and the development of this site into a replacement for the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health Underground Safety Research Program. This site would replace the former Lake Lynn Experimental Mine in Fayette County, Pennsylvania, and would support research programs focused on miner health and safety issues.

This proposal comes from the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS)’s Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), in cooperation with the U.S. General Services Administration (GSA).

The following information about this proposal has been published:

“The proposed action is needed because NIOSH’s former underground testing laboratory, the Lake Lynn Experimental Mine in Pennsylvania, was a leased facility and all efforts to purchase the facility or continue the lease on a long-term basis have failed. The facility is needed to help meet the NIOSH mission for conducting research and making recommendations for the prevention of work-related illnesses and injuries related to the mining industry.

“The site being considered for acquisition and development includes 461.35 acres located off of U. S. Route 219 in Randolph and Pocahontas counties near Mace.

“The National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) requires federal agencies to involve the public when making decisions that may impact the natural, cultural and socioeconomic environment. CDC is coordinating National Historic Preservation Act compliance with the NEPA process.”

According to The Consortium for Silver Creek, the land being considered “is currently owned and operated by the Consortium Groups for grazing and as managed timberland.  The purpose of the acquisition is to replace an elderly Underground Safety Research Program Facility that is no longer available. The National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) is one of the Centers for Disease Control Centers, Institutes and Offices.

“NIOSH plans, directs and coordinates a national program to develop and establish recommended occupational safety and health standards, conduct research and training, provide technical assistance, and perform related activities to ensure healthy working conditions for every working person in the United States.

“The staff needed to implement this important NIOSH mission statement brings new and important employment opportunities for Senior Scientists, Administrative Staff, Maintenance and New Construction Staff, Emergency Services Training Staff as well as facility operation and protection personnel.

“Year around needs for trainee /guest housing supports the mission of nearby Snowshoe bringing much need economic benefits to our region and creating need for local housing and support for the real estate industry in our area.

“Even more importantly, the miners throughout America, whose safety is targeted in this effort, will be greatly benefitted as they continue to labor to provide the energy and minerals needed to keep our nation as the leader of the Arsenal of Democracy through enhanced safety practices. In addition, fire suppression and first responders will also be benefitted through enhanced training in authentic and realistic real world environments aiding in their protection as well as aiding in the survival of those they are fighting to save.”

For more information about the proposal, upcoming open house-style public meeting and how to submit comments, see page 12 of this edition of The Pocahontas Times.

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