Governor Ernie Fletcher’s Communications Office
Governor Fletcher Announces Mine Seal Monitoring

Press Release Date:  Monday, May 22, 2006  
Contact Information:  Brett Hall
Jodi Whitaker
Troy Body

Miners encouraged to check rescuer units

FRANKFORT, Ky. – Governor Ernie Fletcher today announced the state will order all underground mines to test daily for methane and oxygen levels at non-conventional mine seals. Testing will include readings both inside and outside the sealed area, the Governor said.

“After two mine accidents involving non-conventional mine seals, we want to insure the integrity of these seals and monitor them for possible leaks,” said Governor Fletcher. “I have directed the Office of Mine Safety and Licensing (OMSL) to implement a mine seal monitoring protocol and re-emphasize proper use of Self-Contained Self Rescuers (SCSR). These steps are necessary to insure miners are prepared for emergency situations and to identify potential problems with non-conventional seals.”

Non-conventional mine seals are constructed of materials other than solid concrete block. The new monitoring protocol will include taking oxygen and methane readings both outside and inside the sealed area. This data will be reported to OMSL for evaluation.

A mine safety bulletin emphasizing the proper use and care of the SCSR will be sent to each Kentucky coal mine. This bulletin will remind company owners and miners alike of the importance of proper care of this emergency equipment.

In addition, mine safety analysts will be visiting each Kentucky mine to emphasize the proper use of SCSR.

The investigation into the Kentucky Darby Mine accident is ongoing. Investigators have not yet been able to enter the mine due to continuing high levels of methane and carbon monoxide. Efforts have been focused on ventilating the mine to achieve safe air levels for both state and federal investigative teams. Investigators may be able to enter the mine as early as Tuesday.

State investigators conducted a preliminary interview Monday with the survivor of Saturday’s accident, Paul Ledford. Additional interviews will be conducted during the formal investigation.

“As we remember the families who are suffering during this difficult time, we want to assure them that we will conduct a complete and thorough investigation into this accident,” said Governor Fletcher. “Families want answers, and we are committed to keeping them informed during this process and working to get the answers they need and deserve.”