MUHLENBERG CO., Ky. (WFIE) - Officials from the Kentucky Energy & Environment Cabinet (EEC), including Secretary Charles Snavely and Department for Natural Resources Commissioner John Small are at Paradise Mine No. 9 in Bremen, Kentucky where an accident occurred involving a 62-year-old welder and iron worker.
Around 5:30 p.m. Wednesday, officials say Richard L. Knapp, an employee of Fricke Management & Contracting, Murphysboro, IL, was constructing a form which would be used to fill a mine shaft with concrete. This was part of an effort to seal and close the mine.
A methane gas explosion caused Knapp to fall. We are told this explosion could possibly of happened because of the lack of fans and ventilation system after the mine was idled in February. This means no active mining was underway.
EEC mine personnel from across the state, as well as representatives from the U.S. Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA), and owner KenAmerican Resources, Inc. are on site to assist with the recovery operation.
“On behalf of the Cabinet, I want to extend my heartfelt prayers to the Knapp family as all parties work as swiftly as possible in the recovery effort,” Secretary Snavely said.
All operations were shut down on Wednesday and remains closed now, guarded by local law enforcement.
It could not be confirmed if Knapp was wearing any type of safety harness because part of the metal fell during the explosion too.
According to mine officials, once gas levels are deemed safe the recovery efforts, which could take days, will continue.