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  1. #1
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    Failure at the Utah Mines

    Rescuers suspend effort at Utah mine

    By MICHAEL RUBINKAM, Associated Press Writer 1 hour, 35 minutes ago

    HUNTINGTON, Utah - After 10 days of setbacks, nerve-jangling "bumps" and a second mine collapse that killed three workers trying to rescue their comrades, authorities Friday conceded defeat to a mountain that appeared to be slowly crumbling.
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    "Is there any possible way we can continue this underground operation and provide safety for the rescue workers? At this point we don't have an answer," federal Mine Safety and Health Administration chief Richard Stickler said as he announced that officials had suspended the rescue operation indefinitely.

    The collapse Thursday night killed three rescue workers and injured six others who were trying to tunnel through rubble to reach six men trapped since Aug. 6 after a massive cave-in. Crews on Friday were still drilling a fourth hole into the mountain to look for any sign of the missing men.

    "Without question, we have suffered a setback, and we have incurred an incredible loss. But this team remains focused on the task at hand" the rescue of the miners, said Rob Moore, vice president of Murray Energy Corp., co-owner of the Crandall Canyon Mine.

    Said Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman, who ordered flags lowered to half staff: "We went from a tragedy to a catastrophe."

    Huntsman continued to call the effort a "rescue operation," but he said the digging would not resume until workers' safety could be guaranteed.

    "Let us ensure that we have no more injuries. We have suffered enough as a state," he said.

    President Bush called Huntsman Friday afternoon to express his condolences for those who died or were injured in the mine rescue. "He wanted the governor and the people of Utah to know that they are in his thoughts and prayers," White House spokesman Gordon Johndroe said.

    Mexico's consul in Salt Lake City, Salvador Jimenez, said he spoke with Huntsman and urged him to continue the rescue effort. While experts need to study the best way to do it safely, "this effort should not be interrupted," Jimenez said. Three of the six men still trapped are Mexican nationals.

    The cave-in at 6:39 p.m. was believed to be caused by a "mountain bump," in which shifting layers of earth forced chunks of rock from the walls. The force from the bump registered a magnitude 1.6 at the University of Utah seismograph stations in Salt Lake City.

    "These events seem to be related to ongoing settling of the rock mass following the main event," university spokesman Lee Siegel said. "I don't think I'm going too far to say that this mountain is collapsing in slow motion."

    Stickler said the bump unleashed a massive blast of coal and support material that buried the miners working to clear rubble from the underground tunnel. The blast created a destruction zone about 30 feet long along a wall of the chamber and knocked out steel posts, chain link fencing and the cables that tied everything together.

    The rescuers had been working beneath 2,000 feet of sandstone. Stickler said the weight of the mountain created tremendous pressure on the cavern, blowing out reinforced walls with a force that could break a 40-ton mining machine in half.

    "When that energy gets released, it's like an explosion," he said.

    Rescuers frantically dug out the injured men, buried under 5 feet of coal, by hand and rushed them from the mine on the beds of pickup trucks. One died at the scene, said Kevin Stricklin, MSHA's administrator for coal mine safety.

    Two of the dead were identified as MSHA inspector Gary Jensen, 53, of Redmond, and miner Dale Black, 48, of Huntington.

    Jensen had worked at MSHA since 2001 and was recently assigned to special investigations, agency spokeswoman Amy Louviere said.

    Black grew up two doors from Huntington Mayor Hilary Gordon, who visited his mother Friday and recalled that he was "just full of life."

    The president of the United Mine Workers of America, Cecil E. Roberts, blamed the mine's owners and federal officials for the latest tragedy. Owners of the nonunion mine had rejected UMW offers to help in the rescue effort, saying they had all the help they needed.

    "This disaster has only compounded what was already an immense tragedy. Making the situation much worse is the fact that all of these deaths were needless and preventable," Roberts said in a statement from union headquarters in Fairfax, Va.

    But Stickler said outside experts had signed off on MSHA's plan to ensure the rescuers' safety underground.

    "There was consensus that the plan that we had developed and implemented provided the maximum safety of workers that we knew to be available," he said. "Obviously, it was not adequate."

    Noticeably absent Friday from the news conference announcing the suspended rescue effort was Bob Murray, co-owner of the mine, who had been a dominant presence at previous briefings.

    "He wanted to be here. I'm certain you understand the reasons he could not be here this morning," Moore said. He provided no details on where Murray was.

    MSHA is summoning the experts to the mine to see if they can develop a safer way of tunneling toward the trapped miners, Stickler said. But he said any further rescue efforts would have to involve drilling a bore hole large enough to fit a rescue capsule a task that would take more than two weeks, according to Stricklin.

    Sue Ann Martell, director of the mining history museum in nearby Helper, Utah, said the rescue workers won't give up easily.

    "Because if they were in there and they were the original six, they'd want to know somebody was coming after them, and they wouldn't want them to give up," Martell said. "Yeah, three more have died, you've got six more injured. OK fine, let's stabilize the mine, but we're going back. They won't give up."

    "Think about the code that's among firemen you don't leave a man behind," she said.

    Martell, who is a neighbor to one of the trapped miners, said she cried for the first time Friday.

    "It's just mounting up and mounting up," she said. "It's horrible."

    In Mexico, Susana Salcido sobbed when told that the search for her cousin Manuel Sanchez and the other miners had been suspended.

    "Yesterday we were hopeful after learning that they had heard noises (inside the rubble)," said Salcido, who lives in Sanchez's home town of Nuevo Casas Grande.

    "We never imagined that instead of good news we would hear about another tragedy," she added, referring to the killed rescuers.

    Even so, she said she is not ready to lose hope. "All we can do now is pray for a miracle," Salcido said.

    Bob Ferriter, a former MSHA engineer who teaches safety at the Colorado School of Mines, said it could take weeks before conditions are safe enough to attempt another underground rescue. But he predicted the mine would have no trouble getting workers to go back underground.

    "It's a brotherhood. If they were in there, they would want somebody to come back and recover them," Ferriter said. Leaving the six men in the mine, he said, "would be the last option."

    Yet miners have been left underground before. In 1968, a mine explosion in Farmington, W.Va., killed 78 miners. Nineteen remain entombed.

    The Scotia Mine in Kentucky was sealed after a March 1976 accident that killed 26. Rescuers concluded the risk of additional explosions was too high. And 12 men killed in the 1959 Knox Mine disaster in Pennsylvania were never recovered.
    Respects.

  2. #2
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kevy5150 View Post
    Huntsman continued to call the effort a "rescue operation," but he said the digging would not resume until workers' safety could be guaranteed.

    "Let us ensure that we have no more injuries. We have suffered enough as a state," he said.
    It's a coal mine. That can never be guaranteed.

    Quote Originally Posted by Kevy5150 View Post
    Mexico's consul in Salt Lake City, Salvador Jimenez, said he spoke with Huntsman and urged him to continue the rescue effort. While experts need to study the best way to do it safely, "this effort should not be interrupted," Jimenez said. Three of the six men still trapped are Mexican nationals.
    I'm sure there's an extra light, belt and boots for el presidente whenever he's ready to get some.

    Quote Originally Posted by Kevy5150 View Post
    The president of the United Mine Workers of America, Cecil E. Roberts, blamed the mine's owners and federal officials for the latest tragedy. Owners of the nonunion mine had rejected UMW offers to help in the rescue effort, saying they had all the help they needed.
    Why do they keep quoting this dick. He's got a political agenda and the UMWA has had a campaign against Murray long before this accident.

    Quote Originally Posted by Kevy5150 View Post
    "This disaster has only compounded what was already an immense tragedy. Making the situation much worse is the fact that all of these deaths were needless and preventable," Roberts said in a statement from union headquarters in Fairfax, Va.
    That's another bullshit statement. He knows no more about the conditions of that mine than I do. He doesn't know the circumstances surrounding the accident either. To say these deaths were preventable, is to say that the company was intentionally placing production ahead of safety and that these miners that are trapped were taking unnecessary chances with there own lives which is slanderous. Yeah wonder why Murray wants no help from the UMWA?

    Quote Originally Posted by Kevy5150 View Post
    But Stickler said outside experts had signed off on MSHA's plan to ensure the rescuers' safety underground.

    "There was consensus that the plan that we had developed and implemented provided the maximum safety of workers that we knew to be available," he said. "Obviously, it was not adequate."
    Or maybe coal mining is just real fucking dangerous and we can't control mother nature quite as well as we'd like to think?

    Quote Originally Posted by Kevy5150 View Post
    Noticeably absent Friday from the news conference announcing the suspended rescue effort was Bob Murray, co-owner of the mine, who had been a dominant presence at previous briefings.

    "He wanted to be here. I'm certain you understand the reasons he could not be here this morning," Moore said. He provided no details on where Murray was.
    Probably tired of talking to dickhead reporters who have no clue what goes on in an underground coal mine.

    God Bless the trapped miners and those who were killed and injured trying to save them. Be with the men drilling to try to find them and lead the men who are making the decisions which will effect the lives of them all.
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  3. #3
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    What terrible news. Just horrible. I feel for the families of those 6 trapped minors, and now the three killed rescuers. My prayers go out to them all. Got my fingers crossed that no one else will get hurt and they will succeed.

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by graphicbrian View Post
    What terrible news. Just horrible. I feel for the families of those 6 trapped minors, and now the three killed rescuers. My prayers go out to them all. Got my fingers crossed that no one else will get hurt and they will succeed.
    It just left an empty feeling inside me when I heard this. Maybe in the end we'll be blessed with a miracle.
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  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by VH_VAREB View Post
    It just left an empty feeling inside me when I heard this. Maybe in the end we'll be blessed with a miracle.
    God, I hope so.

  6. #6
    Atomic Punk FORD's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by VH_VAREB View Post
    It just left an empty feeling inside me when I heard this. Maybe in the end we'll be blessed with a miracle.
    Yeah, who needs safety in mines when there's always the very slight possibility that Jesus will provide a miracle after they have been buried for two fucking weeks. Sorry pal, but your rants in the other thread (and this one) shows that all your sympathies lie with that fat fucking bastard Murray, and not with the miners or their families.

    Sad to say it, but it's over. Those guys probably won't ever come out of there dead, let alone alive. Too bad they can't throw that pig Murray down there with them. At least he deserves such a fate, because he wouldn't do a damn thing to improve the safety of the miners.
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  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by FORD View Post
    Yeah, who needs safety in mines when there's always the very slight possibility that Jesus will provide a miracle after they have been buried for two fucking weeks. Sorry pal, but your rants in the other thread (and this one) shows that all your sympathies lie with that fat fucking bastard Murray, and not with the miners or their families.

    Sad to say it, but it's over. Those guys probably won't ever come out of there dead, let alone alive. Too bad they can't throw that pig Murray down there with them. At least he deserves such a fate, because he wouldn't do a damn thing to improve the safety of the miners.
    I know in your Hollywood / CNN version of coal mining, the poor downtroden miner is always pitted against the powerful mine operator. This makes for good TV and ratings, but in reality, in most cases nothing can be further from the truth. Most miners, foreman and operators have a good and at the very least chordal working relationship. Of course the UMWA tries to indicate otherwise. Why? It's in their best interest. The UMWA is dying and they know it. Most of the lackeys you see on TV wouldn't know which end of the belt the coal comes out on. They're lawyers and lobbyists. Cecil Roberts made his statement from Fairfax VA. There's no coal in Fairfax, but there sure is a fat bloated federal government right up the road in Washington.

    In the end the only completely safe coal mine is one that was never started. As long as coal is mined underground there will be tragedies such as these.

    I've personally known 4 men killed underground. 2 non-union, 2 union. Bad top can't tell the difference.
    Last edited by VAREB; 08.18.07 at 12:15 PM.
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  8. #8
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    Default Why people go to war and into mines

    They go because folks need them to go and pay them "well" to do so.
    I've never worked for big coal, but I've worked for big oil, and I know full well what drives the system. Big Money. If you live in a mining community where all your family has gone down into the earth for generations, the pull is even tougher than coming from a military family. You might think it's free will. It's not. It's exploitation and it's giving into the idea that this is the best you can do. I have no doubt whatsoever that the mining company in Utah knew very well that it was dangerous, but they were gambling they could get a few more tons and then quit while they were ahead. The stakes were not their own lives, nor the lives of their sons or daughters. The stakes were the miners who died and got left behind.
    Now, you can believe, if you choose, that they had a choice to go in there. That's not the way I see it. Whether or not you die bravely, or stupidly in a war that should never been faught or a mine that should never have been dug, that last gasp of breath it all becomes clear - I've been had.

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by Leftylou View Post
    Now, you can believe, if you choose, that they had a choice to go in there. That's not the way I see it. Whether or not you die bravely, or stupidly in a war that should never been faught or a mine that should never have been dug, that last gasp of breath it all becomes clear - I've been had.
    You're obviously entitled to your opinion. However, at least in my mind, this isn't an opinion. It's a choice, plain and simple. For miners and for the military. Anybody who gets a job as a coal miner (or a cop, or a fireman, or a convenience store clerk) has to know that anything can happen. Particularly those in "dangerous" lines of work. As far as the military, if you don't want to go to war, don't join the military. There isn't an option to go or not go once you've enlisted. There isn't a draft, everyone joins by choice. You'd have to be mentally deficient to not realize you could wind up in a war at some point.
    Don't get me wrong, I don't like to see people dying, but they absolutely know the possibility for death exists and they go in with eyes open.
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    hmmm...i wasnt aware that our Marines, soldiers and sailors are "paid well" to go to war. they get paid what amounts to shit. trust me, i know.

    miners on the other hand, im sure are paid quite a bit better. but i could be wrong. doesnt make this tragedy any more bearable.
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  11. #11
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    I've been following this one since it started, looking for updates every few hours. It's so sad that they're talking about giving up. I think all these people who are pointing fingers should trek up the mountain and start digging. It's the least they can do for the families of these miners.

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    Mistakes doomed Utah mine, reports say

    http://www.cnn.com/2008/US/08/06/uta....ap/index.html
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