The federal Mine Safety and Health Administration targeted inspections over the weekend toward 57 coal mines with a history of repeated methane and dust control problems.
Two of the 14 mines targeted in Kentucky are owned by Massey Energy Co., the owner of the Upper Big Branch mine in West Virginia, where 29 miners died as a result of an explosion April 5. The Upper Big Branch mine fit MSHA's criteria for the inspection blitz, but the mine was not inspected because of the disaster, MSHA officials said.
The agency said results of the inspections would be released later. President Barack Obama requested stepped-up inspections of underground mines during meetings with MSHA and Department of Labor officials last week.
The inspections are ongoing, MSHA spokeswoman Amy Louviere said Wednesday. A similar blitz was done in February 2009 to look for dust-control problems.
"Certainly we want to avoid disasters before they happen," Louviere said. "But we feel that such initiatives like the one launched last weekend can also be an effective means of enforcement."
As of last week, one of the Massey properties targeted, Freedom Energy Mine No. 1 in Pike County, had been issued 222 citations since April 5, according to a Herald-Leader analysis of MSHA data.