Governor Ernie Fletcher’s Communication Office
Governor Fletcher Seeks Additional Opportunities to Improve Mine Safety

Press Release Date:  Monday, January 23, 2006  
Contact Information:  Brett Hall
Jodi Whitaker
Troy Body

Offers condolences to families of fallen West Virginia and Kentucky coal miners

FRANKFORT, Ky. - Governor Ernie Fletcher today released the following statement in the wake of this weekend’s coal mine tragedy in West Virginia in which two men lost their lives: 

“We extend our deepest sympathies and prayers to the family and friends of those who recently have lost their lives in mining accidents in the Appalachian coal fields. We appreciate the efforts of the mine rescue teams, including those from Kentucky, who respond to the call to assist fellow miners.

“We have been reminded once again of the dangers of coal mining, the source of electricity for most of the country. I look forward to working with the federal Office of Mine Safety and Health Administration as it launches a new mine rescue initiative focusing on technology.

“Like the governors of other coal-producing states, I will not be satisfied until every miner in our state returns home safely to his or her family at the end of a shift. Although we have experienced the lowest number of fatalities in active Kentucky mines the past two years — five miners killed each year — that is still five too many.

“I will be contacting the Governors of West Virginia and Virginia to ask them to join with me in a tri-state effort to improve mine safety and move forward with comprehensive programs that build on what we can learn from these recent tragic accidents.  As a result of earlier work done by representatives of the three states on the Mine Substance Abuse Task Force, I intend to introduce legislation in the coming days that seeks to keep mines free from risks associated with substance abuse.

“In addition, I have already instructed our Department for Natural Resources to review our mining regulations to determine whether there is need for additional regulatory authority. Additionally, last August I requested a study of retreat mining—which has contributed to several mining deaths in Kentucky the past two years—to look at other studies and the use of new technologies, Kentucky’s unique geological conditions and programs in other states. That study will be completed in the next two weeks.

“Since taking office, our administration has added seven mine safety inspectors and has increased mine safety training and inspections. We will have additional inspectors and analysts next month to work to make Kentucky coal mines even safer. And we are in the process of purchasing additional mine safety equipment for our state inspectors.

“Mine safety in Kentucky remains a top priority of our administration. Working with Kentucky coal miners and mine operators, we will continue our efforts to reduce mining accidents and eliminate mining fatalities.”

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