Inspections of Kentucky’s underground mines uncovered 134 defective breathing devices, state regulators announced Wednesday.
All but one of the defective air packs, which have been removed, were the type used by miners who died of carbon monoxide poisoning in an eastern Kentucky mine explosion in May and in the Sago Mine disaster in West Virginia in January. They were manufactured by CSE Corp. of Monroeville, Pa.
Coal companies can replace the defective air packs with any brand approved by federal regulators, including the type used in the mine disasters.
That type is approved by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, though years of government tests show that users have to breathe harder and that there is a higher level of carbon dioxide in the air they breathe, compared with other brands.
Air packs were inspected at all of the state’s 196 underground mines. State regulators kept track only of the number of defective devices, not the total number of air packs inspected, said Mark York, spokesman for the Environmental and Public Protection Cabinet, which oversees mine safety.
The review of Kentucky’s air packs, also called self-contained self-rescuers, was ordered by Gov. Ernie Fletcher after the May 20 explosion at Kentucky Darby Mine No. 1 mine left five miners dead. Three died of carbon monoxide poisoning, despite having donned their air packs.