Mine safety center in Madisonville to be only fourth in nation - 14 News, WFIE, Evansville, Henderson, Owensboro

Mine safety center in Madisonville to be only fourth in nation

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A new mine safety center will be located in Madisonville.   It will be only the fourth one in the nation.

The nearest mine safety center is about eight hours away, and local miners say in the event of an emergency, this will make a big difference.

Local miners including Rick Caskey say there's no such thing as being over prepared..

"Time is critical, of the essence when there's a catastrophic event in saving lives," he said.

Thursday, a group was going through drills at the Kentucky Coal Academy in Madisonville.

Mine Rescue Director Danny Knot says the closest safety center is in Beckley, West Virginia, but soon the time it takes to get essential materials to the scene of a mining accident will be drastically cut down.

"The first few minutes of a disaster is most critical especially the first couple hours but if miners are trapped or explosion or mine fire, this equipment will now be housed here locally," Knot told 14 News.

Knot says some of the equipment stored at these mine emergency operation centers can cost hundreds of thousands of dollars. That includes new wireless communications gear, materials to better identify gases, and seismic location devices.

"They can locate miners underground from on top of the ground," Knot said. "I'm told now able to do that a thousand feet down from outside."

Western Kentucky is home to several mine rescue competitions each year. Knot and Caskey agree the entire Tri-State will benefit from this because Madisonville is within two hours of roughly 60 mines in Kentucky, Indiana, and Illinois.

"Madisonville has always been a large coal mining community," Caskey said. "We've had our ups and downs and the coal mining industry has always fluctuated a little but really anything that will benefit our coal miners we totally welcome."

The Mine Safety and Health Administration says they hope to have the new facility up and running by the middle of next year.

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