Inspectors cite three Kentucky mines for health and safety hazards

Federal inspectors found serious health and safety hazards at three Kentucky coal mines during special inspections in March, according to the U.S. Mine Safety and Health Administration.

At the Redhawk Mining LLC Redhawk No. 1 Mine in Floyd County, for instance, inspectors found accumulations of combustible coal dust and that proper air flow was not being maintained, even though the mine has a history of liberating explosive methane gas, MSHA said in a release issued Monday.

The mine was shut down for 72 hours while safety issues were corrected.

Inspectors also found a number of problems at Perry County Coal Corp.'s E3-1 Mine in Perry County, including buildups of dust that can explode.

MSHA inspectors issued a total of 109 citations and orders to those two mines and the Brem Coal Co. LLC No. 2 Mine in Pike County, according to a news release.

MSHA began conducting special "impact" inspections after the April 2010 explosion that killed 29 miners at the Upper Big Branch mine in West Virginia.

The inspections target mines the agency believes need increased enforcement because of poor compliance history or other factors, such as high numbers of violations or accidents.