Updated Thu, Apr 26, 2012 4:32 pm
Federal regulators are ordering mine operators nationwide to immediately begin phasing out use of an emergency breathing device that testing has proven unreliable.
Some 70,000 air packs called self-contained self-rescuers could be in use. They must be out of every mine by Dec. 31, 2013.
The Mine Safety and Health Administration announced the order Thursday with the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health.
NIOSH says the SR-100 model failed too many tests and is therefore critically flawed.
It contains chemicals that help recycle exhaled breath, giving miners an hour of oxygen so they can seek refuge or escape from a fire or explosion.
The SR-100 was made by Pennsylvania-based CSE Corp. It voluntarily stopped production of that model when internal reviews found problems and redesigned the defective oxygen-starter system.