(a) In any mine, all workings which are abandoned after July 1, 1971, shall be sealed or ventilated. If the workings are sealed, the sealing shall be done with incombustible material in a manner prescribed by the director and one or more of the seals of every sealed area shall be fitted with a pipe and cap or valve to permit the sampling of gases and measuring of hydrostatic pressure behind the seals. For the purpose of this section, working within a panel shall not be considered to be abandoned until the panel is abandoned.
(b) Air that has passed through an abandoned area or an area which is inaccessible or unsafe for inspection shall not be used to ventilate any working place in any working mine, unless permission is granted by the director with unanimous agreement of the technical and mine safety review committee. Air that has been used to ventilate seals shall not be used to ventilate any working place in any working mine. Air which has been used to ventilate an area from which the pillars have been removed shall not be used to ventilate any working place in a mine, except that the air, if it does not contain 0.25 volume percent or more of methane, may be used to ventilate enough advancing working places immediately adjacent to the line of retreat to maintain an orderly sequence of pillar recovery on a set of entries. Before sealed areas, temporary or permanent, are reopened, the director shall be notified.
(c) On or after the effective date of the amendment and reenactment of this section during the 2007 regular session of the Legislature, a professional engineer registered with the Board of Registration for Professional Engineers pursuant to article thirteen, chapter thirty of this code shall certify the design of all new seals as meeting the criteria established by the director. Every seal design shall have the professional engineer's certificate and signature, in addition to his or her seal, in the following form:
"I the undersigned, do hereby certify that this seal design is, to the best of my knowledge, in accordance with all applicable requirements under state and federal law, rules and regulations.
(d) On or after the effective date of the amendment and reenactment of this section during the 2007 regular session of the Legislature, the director shall approve the construction of all new seals in accordance with rules authorized in this section. The construction shall also be:
(1) Certified by the mine foreman-fire boss of the mine as being in accordance with the design certified by a professional engineer pursuant to subsection (c) of this section; and
(2) (A) Constructed of solid concrete blocks and in accordance with the other provisions of 30 CFR 75.335(a)(1); or
(B) Constructed in a manner that the director has approved as having the capability to withstand pressure equal to or greater than a seal constructed in accordance with the provisions of 30 CFR 75.335(a)(1).
(e) On or after the effective date of the amendment and reenactment of this section during the 2007 regular session of the Legislature, the operator shall inspect the physical condition of all seals and measure the atmosphere behind all seals in accordance with protocols developed by the Board of Coal Mine Health and Safety, pursuant to rules authorized in this section and consistent with a mine-specific atmospheric measurement plan submitted to and approved by the director. The atmospheric measurements shall include, but not be limited to, the methane and oxygen concentrations and the barometric pressure. The atmospheric measurements also shall be recorded with ink or indelible pencil in a book kept for that purpose on the surface at a location designated by the operator. The protocols shall specify appropriate methods for inspecting the physical condition of seals, measuring the mine atmosphere in sealed workings, and inerting the mine atmosphere behind the seals, where appropriate.
(f) (1) In all mines containing workings sealed using seals constructed in accordance with the provisions of 30 CFR 75.335(a)(2) which are constructed: (A) Of cementitious foam blocks; or (B) with methods or materials that the Board of Coal Mine Health and Safety determines do not provide an adequate level of protection to miners, the operator shall, pursuant to a plan submitted to and approved by the director, remediate the seals by either enhancing the seals or constructing new seals in place of or immediately outby the seals. After being remediated, all seals must have the capability to withstand pressure equal to or greater than a seal constructed in accordance with the provisions of 30 CFR 75.335(a)(1). The design, development, submission and implementation of the remediation plan is the responsibility of the operator of each mine. Pursuant to rules authorized in this section, the Board of Coal Mine Health and Safety shall specify appropriate methods of enhancing the seals.
(2) Notwithstanding any provision of this code to the contrary, if the director determines that any seal described in subdivision (1) of this subsection is incapable of being remediated in a safe and effective manner, the mine foreman-fire boss shall, at least once every twenty-four hours, inspect the physical condition of the seal and measure the atmosphere behind the seal. The daily inspections and measurements shall otherwise be performed in accordance with the protocols and atmospheric measurement plan established pursuant to subsection (e) of this section.
(g) Upon the effective date of the amendment and reenactment of this section during the 2007 regular session of the Legislature, second mining of lower coal on retreat, also known as bottom mining, shall not be permitted in workings that will be sealed unless an operator has first submitted and received approval by the director of a remediation plan that sets forth measures that will be taken to mitigate the effects of remnant ramps and other conditions created by bottom mining on retreat which can increase the force of explosions originating in and emanating out of workings that have been bottom mined. The director shall require that certification in a manner similar to that set forth in subsection (c) of this section shall be obtained by the operator from a professional engineer and the mine foreman-fire boss for the plan design and plan implementation, respectively.
(h) No later than sixty days after the effective date of the amendment and reenactment of this section during the 2007 regular session of the Legislature, the Board of Coal Mine Health and Safety shall develop and promulgate rules pursuant to the provisions of section four, article six of this chapter to implement and enforce the provisions of this section.
(i) Upon the issuance of mandatory health and safety standards relating to the sealing of abandoned areas in underground coal mines by the Secretary of the United States Department of Labor pursuant to 30 U. S. C. §811, as amended by section ten of the federal Mine Improvement and New Emergency Response Act of 2006, the director, working in consultation with the Board of Coal Mine Health and Safety, shall, within thirty days, provide the Governor with his or her recommendations, if any, for the enactment, repeal or amendment of any statute or rules which would enhance the safe sealing of abandoned mine workings and the health and safety of miners.