Friday, August 31, 2007

Award named for Utahn killed in mine collapse

Award named for Utahn killed in mine collapse
By Matt Canham
The Salt Lake TribuneArticle
Last Updated: 08/31/2007 01:19:10 AM MDT

Aug 31
NASHVILLE, Tenn. - Gary Jensen wanted to be here with his fellow mine safety workers. He planned to participate in the national mine rescue competition and catch up with some old friends. But a real-life tragedy at Crandall Canyon in Huntington ended his life just a few weeks before the national gathering. The federal Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) renamed a mine inspection award in his honor. A poster with his image greeted each person as they entered the awards banquet. They prayed for his family and the others touched by mine collapses at Crandall Canyon. Jensen, whom his friends called Gibb, is the first official from the federal Mine Safety and Health Administration to die in a work-related accident in more than 30 years.
Coal and rock shot through the wall supports in the Crandall Canyon mine on Aug. 16, killing Jensen and two other men, Dale Black and Brandon Kimber. Six others were injured. The group was trying to recreate the entrance to Crandall Canyon in the hopes of finding six trapped miners.
Jensen didn't die instantly. He was still conscious when he was taken to the ambulance, according to Kevin Stricklin, MSHA administrator for coal-mining safety. "His comment to us was 'Is anyone else hurt?' " Stricklin told the crowd at the banquet. "That was the last we heard from Gary."
At his
funeral in Salina, family and friends recalled Jensen as a prankster who doted on his grandchildren, loved hunting and rooted for the Oakland Raiders. Jensen, 53, lived in Redmond with his family. Ray Guymon described Jensen as a loyal friend, a man of great integrity and a person dedicated to mine safety.
"His whole life was dedicated to improving safety in the mines," said Guymon, who is one of the leaders of the Energy West mining team, which competed in the national safety competition this week. Energy West operates the Deer Creek mine adjacent to Crandall Canyon. Guymon and his fellow safety team members were some of the first people who responded to the mine collapse. They received four second-place awards in the national competition, including one for first aid and one for the combination of all safety events. They won more awards than any of the 50 teams that competed.
And all of them knew Jensen. Guymon met him decades ago when he was a mine safety engineer for a local outfit. Jensen most recently worked as a roof control specialist. A mine safety company from Glassport, Pa., started a collection at the awards banquet for the family members of Jensen and the others who died at Crandall Canyon. At the end of the night, they raised more than $4,000.
"We have had a lot of tragedies in the last few years. This one touched my heart very strongly," said Ian Houlison, manager of Phoenix First Response. "All we could do is lend a hand fiscally for the families."

Investigation of MSHA ordered by labor secretary

Investigation of MSHA ordered by labor secretary
By Mike Gorrell The Salt Lake Tribune
August 31, 2007

An unprecedented outside investigation will be conducted into the role of federal Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) officials in the Crandall Canyon mine disaster.
U.S. Secretary of Labor Elaine Chao announced the independent probe on Thursday, hours after MSHA named Richard A. Gates to lead the agency's official probe into what happened at Crandall Canyon, where six miners were trapped by a catastrophic collapse of the mine's walls on Aug. 6 and three rescuers were killed and six injured by another implosion 10 days later.
Gates was MSHA's lead investigator into the Jan. 2, 2006 explosion that killed 12 miners at the Sago mine in Upshur County, W.Va.
Also Thursday, a Senate subcommittee disclosed that MSHA director Richard Stickler will be among four people called to testify Wednesday at the first congressional hearing into the disaster.
Mine co-owner Robert Murray is not yet among them. The Murray Energy Corp. president was asked to testify and responded that he would try to attend, but has not confirmed he will be present, according to committee staff.
Chao appointed two retired MSHA officials - Joseph Pavlovich of Gray, Ky., and Earnest Teaster Jr. of King George, Va. - to evaluate the actions and decisions of MSHA personnel before the Crandall Canyon mine's meltdown and during the rescue effort.
"The Crandall Canyon miners, the rescuers who were injured and perished in trying to save others, and the loved ones who have suffered so much in this tragedy continue to be foremost in our thoughts," she said.
Pavlovich was a 30-year veteran at MSHA and an expert on mine rescue operations. He headed three internal post-accident reviews at the agency and participated in a fourth. Pavlovich also assisted Davitt McAteer - who ran MSHA during the Clinton administration and is a long-time advocate of miners' rights - when McAteer reviewed the Sago disaster for West Virginia Gov. Joe Manchin.
Teaster also oversaw three post-accident internal reviews during his 32-year career. His duties ranged from mine inspector to district manager and included responsibility for metal and non-metal mines as well as coal.
"That's not a bad team," said McAteer, now a vice president at Wheeling Jesuit University in West Virginia. He knows of no other outside investigations, although there have been numerous internal reviews.
''When an agency is this close to the industry that it inspects, you have to raise the question, 'Are the inspectors doing the proper thing?' '' McAteer said.
Chao's announcement sparked mixed reviews from Rep. George Miller, D-Calif., chairman of the House Labor Committee, which has regulatory oversight of MSHA.
"I am pleased that Secretary Chao recognizes the need for a serious investigation of the Crandall Canyon disaster. But the review panel she established today is not independent. She appointed the panel's members, who work at her direction and serve at her pleasure. One could hardly call that independent," he said.
"Congress is weighing different options to ensure that truly independent investigations are conducted of the tragedy at Crandall Canyon and other mining tragedies. These investigations must include a review of MSHA's conduct before, during and after mining disasters," Miller added. "Ultimately, we need an investigation that the families can have confidence in."
Tony Oppegard, a former MSHA attorney and mine regulator in Kentucky, said he suspects Chao is trying to take the steam out of congressional probes with a "pre-emptive strike." But he has high regard for both Pavlovich and Teaster.
"It's a question of whether they will be allowed to conduct a truly independent investigation," said Oppegard, "and if they're given carte blanche over what they investigate or if they're dictated the areas they are allowed to investigate."
Meanwhile, MSHA's investigative team headed by Gates includes six mine-safety officials from agency districts outside of the Intermountain West. An MSHA spokesman said representatives of the state have been invited to participate.
Gates currently is MSHA's district manager in Birmingham, Ala. He has been a ventilation specialist, mining engineer and assistant district manager. A key team member will be Gary Smith, an MSHA supervisor from Pennsylvania with roof control experience.
McAteer called Gates "an experienced and knowledgeable MSHA investigator."

12 missing in coal mine blast in Henan

12 missing in coal mine blast in Henan
China Daily - ChinaAugust 31, 2007

At least 12 miners went missing after an explosion occurred in a colliery in Central China's Henan Province on Friday.
The blast ripped through the Shunli Coal Mine in Baofeng County of Pingdingshan City at about 8:50 am when the miners were repairing the shaft, according to initial investigation.
Rescuers and police officers are struggling to get into the pit after clearing up the entrance.
The mine, with a legal business license, has been under technological renovation this year in accordance with the government's order to improve production safety.
No more details are available so far.

7th borehole leads to rubble

7th borehole leads to rubble
By Stephen Speckman and Ben WinslowDeseret Morning News
August 31, 2007

A seventh borehole entered the Crandall Canyon Mine Thursday.
But that's where the good news ended for the families of six miners who have been trapped for more than three weeks.
By 5 p.m. Thursday, family members of missing miners Luis Hernandez, Manuel Sanchez, Don Erickson, Carlos Payan, Brandon Phillips and Kerry Allred were given the "discouraging" news that the No. 7 hole into a supposed safe area called the "kitchen" did not reveal any signs of life.
Instead, workers discovered 7 feet of rubble from the floor up and only a 2 1/2-foot void, or space, between the top of the rubble pile and the ceiling. A camera lowered into the hole showed that it was filling up with mud and water.
"It's very discouraging to hear what happened in the kitchen," said Colin King, a Salt Lake attorney hired by the families of the trapped miners. He said family members appear to be ready to take the next step of "saying goodbye" to their loved ones.
"I think we're coming to the end of the line," King said.
Earlier Thursday, Mine Safety and Health Administration officials announced that the man who investigated West Virginia's Sago Mine disaster will lead the investigation into what caused the Aug. 6 collapse at Crandall Canyon.
Richard Gates is the regulatory agency's district manager in Birmingham, Ala., and will head the team that also includes MSHA officials with experience in retreat mining, roof control and other aspects of mining. The state of Utah also has been invited to participate.
Even as the investigation begins, Denver-based U.S. Department of Labor public affairs director Rich Kulczewski said the plan is to return to the fourth borehole to try to lower into the mine a $50,000 robot outfitted with a camera. There's about a 90 percent chance, he noted, that the robot won't make it all the way and that it could be lost in the effort, which was supposed to be under way Thursday night and into this morning.
That was the same news Kulczewski gave family members at a 5 p.m. briefing at the Desert Edge Christian Chapel.
"On the whole, they were pretty quiet," he said about the families' reaction. "They're strong people — they've been through so much."
At least one family member asked about going into the seventh borehole with a pump to draw out the water and mud. "We said we would look into that," Kulczewski said about his response.
"We haven't given up," he added, "but we're running out of possibilities. We wanted to get results. We might be disappointed, but we're not deterred."
No family members, however, are saying they want an eighth or ninth hole, Kulczewski said. Everyone is trying to be patient over the next 24 hours before making more requests, he said.
Sometime today it will be known whether anything was revealed through the fourth borehole.
A cousin of trapped miner Don Erickson volunteered to sign a waiver and be sent down into a hole to do his own search, but Kulczewski nixed that idea, saying it would take two weeks to drill a 30-inch hole and that it would be too risky. "That's something we can't allow to happen," he said.
Previously, the fourth borehole revealed a view of some large boulders and timbers, but it's not known yet if that hole still reaches into the mine.
U.S. Labor Secretary Richard Stickler said in a statement Thursday that MSHA's investigation will "fully examine all available evidence to find the cause of the ground failure at Crandall Canyon Mine and any violations of safety and health standards."
However, a labor union complains that it has been shut out of the investigation. The United Mine Workers of America said the families of the six trapped miners asked it to participate in the investigation — but MSHA denied its petition on behalf of the families.
"By denying the families any participation in this investigation, MSHA is ensuring that it will be investigating itself in this tragedy, and American coal miners deserve better than that," UMWA President Cecil Roberts said in a statement, calling on Congress to step in.
A series of congressional probes is set to begin next month.
MSHA said its report will seek to identify root causes of the accident and how the incident unfolded. Any violations of federal mine safety standards could result in citations against the mine's owners, MSHA said.
Investigators could begin looking into the cause as early as next week, federal officials said. Rescue efforts may still be ongoing at the time.
"Starting an investigation doesn't stop a rescue," said Al Davis, a district manager for MSHA.
Investigating will be a lengthy process, with severe limitations. Rescuers still can't get underground because of seismic activity. A 1.6 magnitude event on Aug. 16 killed three rescuers underground and injured six others. That will also be a part of the investigation, MSHA officials said.
The investigation will be different from most because it's "impossible" to get underground. However, MSHA has other means.
"They'll do it through analysis of the data you have at the time. What the readings might have been. They'll go into what the mountain might have been doing, past history of it, the plans that were in place before the mining operation," Kulczewski said. "Interviews are a big part of the investigation. Interviewing miners, the mine operator, MSHA itself."

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Air Pack Thefts Concern Mine Industry

Air Pack Thefts Concern Mine Industry

Thursday August 30, 9:33 am ET

By Tim Huber, Associated Press Writer

Mine Industry Concerned About Rise in Emergency Air Pack Thefts;Required to Be Kept Unlocked

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) -- Underground coal miners are facing a newand apparently growing safety threat: the theft of emergency airpacks.Authorities say the devices have been disappearing from mines,particularly in West Virginia, the nation's largest producer ofunderground coal.Government regulations have forced the industry to store tens ofthousands of extra air packs in unlocked, unguarded boxesunderground so they will be readily accessible to escaping miners inan emergency.
The thefts come at a time when manufacturing backlogs have created adesperately short supply of air packs, or self-contained self-rescuers. Mine operators have taken delivery of 86,000 air packs andare awaiting 100,000 more to meet government mandates adopted afterthe Sago Mine explosion and other deadly disasters.
Authorities say it's tough to quantify the extent of the problem,but the thefts appear to be growing.Richmond, Va.-based Massey Energy Co., the nation's fourth-largestproducer by revenue, says it has lost at least 100 to 200 air packs.Other West Virginia coal companies say they have lost smallerquantities of the devices, which sell for more than $800 each, andKentucky mines have reported scattered thefts as well."That's a lot, especially at the cost of each one of them,"
Masseyspokesman Jeff Gillenwater said. "It's a noticeable problem."One West Virginia mine operator reported 30 stolen air packs thismonth and Pittsburgh-based Consol Energy reports losing about 10 permonth, said Randy Harris, engineering adviser for the state Officeof Miners' Health, Safety and Training.Authorities do not know who is stealing the air packs or why, butHarris suspects at least some are being sold to mine operators orcontractors."Most likely the market is out of state for the big
quantities,"said Harris, who bought one for $25 at a yard sale six months agothat he used during performance testing.
He recently found anotherat an antique store in Oak Hill.West Virginia made it a felony last year to steal an air pack, yetthe devices continue to disappear."Sooner or later somebody's going to show up at a cache in anemergency and it'll be empty," Harris said. "That's why we made it afelony in the first place."Jim Kiser of Greenbrier Smokeless Coal, which lost 21 new air packsin a single theft, said the company has stepped up security,recorded serial numbers and is checking caches weekly."We constantly have a few things disappear," he said.
"We've putevery control we know to mankind in place to hold onto them."Yet air packs still disappear occasionally, often in the hands of aformer employee who takes a job at another mine, Kiser said. Inresponse, Greenbrier is making sure everyone knows it's a felony tosteal an air pack.
Massey is considering alarms and easily torn plastic ties on storageboxes, but Gillenwater, like others, hopes there will be fewerthefts becuase of a new Web site,, thatlists the serial numbers of dozens of missing air packs."We think, quite honestly, that it's a good thing the industry isdoing it themselves," Harris said. "That may be a very viablesolution."The leading air pack manufacturer, Monroeville, Pa.-based CSE Corp.,is adding security detectors.
CSE controls about 60 percent of theU.S. market."We have working models now, prototypes, and we'll be displayingthat to the industry shortly, within a matter of months," companypresident Scott Shearer said.

State considers drilling equipment to improve mine rescue

State considers drilling equipment to improve mine rescueAugust 30, 2007 3:31 PM
West Virginia mine safety officials are taking to heart a lesson from the unsuccessful efforts to rescue six men trapped deep inside a Utah coal mine.They've decided to make sure the state is ready to drill holes large enough to reach miners trapped hundreds of feet below the surface.
State Office of Miners' Health, Safety and Training engineering consultant Randy Harris says that's the next step for state mine safety efforts after the Crandall Canyon mine collapse.
Harris says Miners' Health, Safety and Training wants to compile a list of equipment capable of drilling 30-inch diameter holes.
Such holes would allow rescuers to send escape capsules down to trapped miners.
And Harris says the agency wants to figure out how to have the equipment available at a moment's notice.

NIOSH hires W.Va. company to develop underground tracking system

NIOSH hires W.Va. company to develop underground tracking systemAugust 30, 2007 3:22 PM


A Philippi company has won a contract to develop a system to track miners underground.Extreme Endeavors has until the end of December to develop a prototype tracking device under a $198,000 contract with the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health. The company is one of two working on the project.
Company CEO Mike Masterman says the biggest challenge will be to design a device that isn't too cumbersome.
Masterman says he hopes to develop a device that is small enough to fit inside a fanny pack.
Tracking miners underground has become an issue in the past year because of deadly accidents at West Virginia's Sago Mine and mines in Kentucky and Utah.
If the federal agency likes the concept, Masterman say his company may enter into contracts to complete the design and begin construction.
Masterman's company has designed heart and breathing monitors for firefighters and has helped NASA research global warming.

Court of Appeals affirms miners union can investigate explosion

Court of Appeals affirms miners union can investigate explosion

The 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed a preliminary injunction permitting the United Mine Workers of America to participate in the investigation of a deadly mine explosion at West Virginia's Sago Mine.

Among other things, operator Wolf Run Mining Co. argued that the anonymous designation by two of the union's miners as their representative in the investigation was nothing more than an attempt by the labor organization to begin organizing its nonunion employees.

Wolf Run has so far advanced no evidence to suggest such abuse has occurred or is likely to occur, and remedies are available if it does, Judge Paul V. Niemeyer wrote for the appeals court. While it may be a reason to subject the UMWA to greater scrutiny in its performance of its role as a miners' representative under the Mine Act, we do not decide at this preview of the merits that the UMWA's status as a labor organization seeking to organize Sago Mine precludes the UMWA from performing as a miners' representative.

The explosion on Jan. 2 at Sago Mine in Upshur County, W.Va., seriously injured one miner and killed 12.
The Mine Act authorizes the Secretary of Labor, in this case using the Mine Safety and Health Administration as a representative, to inspect the mine and investigate the cause of the explosion.
A representative of the miners, defined as any person or organization that represents two or more miners, and a representative of the mine operator may participate in the investigation.

Nearly all Sago Mine miners, 92 out of 97, chose their co- workers to represent them.
On Jan. 25, Wolf Run agreed to permit Mine Safety Administration officials and the Sago miners who had been designated as employee representatives on its premises to conduct an investigation but declined to allow union officials to enter.

The Mine Safety Administration suspended the investigation and filed a request for a temporary restraining order, preliminary injunction and permanent injunction, asking the court to order Wolf Run to permit union representatives access to the mine.

After receiving supplemental briefs, the federal court in Elkins, W.Va., said it was adjudicating a request for a temporary restraining order. The court decided to issue a preliminary injunction in favor of the Mine Safety Administration and the Mine Workers.

Wolf Run appealed, and the 4th Circuit affirmed.

The mine operator contended that it had not received proper notice under a Federal Rule of Civil Procedure for the court to issue a preliminary injunction, and the court should have only considered the request for a temporary restraining order.

In addition to noting that in the lower court Wolf Run never complained that it did not have enough notice to adequately present its position, Niemeyer wrote that proper notice was given.

The Secretary of Labor's filing was captioned 'Application for Temporary Restraining Order and Complaint for Preliminary and Permanent Injunction,' and the prayer for relief requested both a TRO and a preliminary and permanent injunction - all of which notified Wolf Run that a preliminary injunction was on the table, Niemeyer wrote.
Wolf Run also argued that the anonymous designations violated procedures specified in the Mine Act and denied it the ability to verify for itself that the UMWA is properly designated and remains so designated throughout the investigation, according to the opinion.
The 4th Circuit found it unnecessary to address that question at this point.
Whether the formalities of designation have been complied with does not for now deny the miners the benefit of designation, Niemeyer wrote, although such a question could well become material as the litigation progresses.

Sago Mine shut down

Sago Mine shut down

Company cites rising costs, slump in prices
By Ken Ward Jr.Staff writer

International Coal Group confirmed Wednesday that it has idled its Sago Mine, the Upshur County operation where 12 workers died last year in West Virginia’s worst mining disaster since 1968.

In a prepared statement, ICG blamed Monday’s shutdown on high production costs and weakening coal prices that “made the Sago Mine unprofitable in the current coal market.”

“A small crew will remain employed at the Sago Mine to maintain the mine infrastructure in idle status and keep it available for restart should market conditions improve,” the Scott Depot-based company said.

The remaining Sago workers have been offered jobs at other operations of ICG subsidiary Wolf Run Mining, the company said.

ICG had previously cut the workforce at the mine from about 85 in early 2006 to 48 at the end of December, according to disclosures filed with the U.S. Mine Safety and Health Administration.
Production last year was down by more than a third over 2005, to about 323,000 tons of coal, according to MSHA data.

The mine was idled from the day of the fatal explosion, Jan. 2, 2006, through March 15.
“Sago was down for a long time relative to the accident,” said Roger Nicholson, an ICG senior vice president and general counsel.
One miner was killed by the methane explosion, and 12 others became trapped deep inside the mine south of Buckhannon. Eleven of those workers died from carbon monoxide poisoning before rescue crews reached them more than 40 hours after the blast. One miner, Randal McCloy Jr., survived, and continues what his doctors say is a miraculous recovery.

The disaster was the beginning of the West Virginia coal industry’s most deadly year since 1981. Nationwide, the industry also marked a low point, with 47 deaths, the most since 1995.

Sago has prompted numerous investigations, public hearings and reignited congressional interest in pushing MSHA for tougher mine safety enforcement.

Last year, Congress passed and President Bush signed the most significant rewrite of the nation’s mine safety laws since 1977, requiring better mine rescue equipment and planning. Lawmakers cited numerous problems that led to the failed effort to rescue 11 of the 12 trapped Sago workers.

Investigations by longtime mine safety expert Davitt McAteer and the state Office of Miners’ Health, Safety and Training have blamed the methane ignition on a lightning strike. United Mine Workers concluded in its own report that friction between loose mine roof rocks and metal roof supports was a more likely cause.

The Sago disaster — along with another sealed-area explosion at the Kentucky Darby Mine — has also forced the coal industry to reassess its tendency to seal off mined-out areas and not keep checking them for methane. West Virginia regulators and MSHA are both under the gun to write tougher rules for seal construction later this year.

On Wednesday morning, Kanawha Circuit Judge Charles King appointed Charleston lawyer Nick Casey to serve as a special commissioner to decide discovery disputes between lawyers in the 15 lawsuits filed by Sago victim families and by McCloy.
King said the commissioner would be needed to help sort out the process of lawyers exchanging documents and scheduling depositions during the investigative phase of the cases.

Separate suits have been filed on behalf of McCloy and on behalf of the estates of 11 of the 12 miners who died in the disaster. Section foreman Martin Toler Jr. is the only victim for whom a suit has not been filed.
Three other suits have been filed on behalf of Sago victim family members other than those filed by estate administrators, court records show.

Defendants in the cases include ICG and Wolf Run Mining, along with ICG founder Wilbur Ross and various Sago suppliers and contractors.
King said Wednesday he would schedule a hearing later on motions by Ross to be dismissed from cases in which he is personally named as a defendant.

In its announcement of the mine being idled, ICG blamed high production costs on “adverse geologic conditions.” Nicholson said the mine’s yield was poor, meaning the amount of rock in its product was rising relative to the amount of coal.

In early February, ICG announced it was delaying developing of its planned Tygart No. 1 longwall mine in Taylor County for at least a year. Company officials cited “the weak market environment.”

And in late December, Allegheny Energy, the sole customer of ICG’s Sycamore No. 2 Mine in Harrison County, sued ICG for alleged breach of a coal supply contract. Sycamore had been idled after encountering adverse geologic conditions and unmapped abandoned gas wells.

Last year, ICG reported a net loss of $9.3 million, compared to a net income of $31.8 million in 2005.
The company’s total coal sales were 4.8 million tons in 2006, compared to 4.2 million in 2005.

In late October 2006, the Raven Complex in Knott County, Ky., opened a new, state-of-the-art preparation plant. ICG’s new Beckley Complex is slated to begin production in the third quarter of 2007.

And in January, ICG completed its $5 million purchase of certain assets of bankrupt Buffalo Coal Co. ICG bought coal reserves, a preparation plant, and a rail load-out near Mount Storm.

MSHA Appoints Team to Investigate Crandall Canyon Mine Accident

MSHA Appoints Team to Investigate Crandall Canyon Mine Accident

The U.S. Department of Labor's Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) today announced the appointment of a team to investigate the accident at the Crandall Canyon mine in Utah. A ground failure trapped six miners on August 6.

"MSHA's investigation will fully examine all available evidence to find the cause of the ground failure at Crandall Canyon mine and any violations of safety and health standards," said Richard E. Stickler, assistant secretary of labor for Mine Safety and Health.

A team of MSHA mine safety professionals, from outside the district responsible for enforcement at the Crandall Canyon mine, will evaluate all aspects of the accident, including potential causes and compliance with federal health and safety standards
. A formal report issued by MSHA will summarize the findings and conclusions of the investigative team, identifying root causes of the accident and how the incident unfolded. Any contributing violations of federal mine safety standards that existed will be cited at the conclusion of the investigation.

The investigative team is made up of federal mine safety professionals and experts from around the country. Representatives from the state of Utah have been invited to participate in the investigation.
Sticker announced that the team is being headed up by Richard A. Gates, MSHA district manager in Birmingham, Ala. Gates has held a number of positions in his 19-year career with the agency, including ventilation specialist, mining engineer and assistant district manager. Gates led MSHA's investigation into the Sago Mine disaster last year.
Assisting Gates will be Timothy R. Watkins, assistant district manager based in Kentucky who has ventilation and retreat mining experience; Gary E. Smith, a supervisor based in Pennsylvania who has roof control expertise; and Joseph R. O'Donnell who is based in MSHA's district office in Alabama. Joseph C. Zelanko, Michael Gauna and Thomas A. Morley of MSHA's Office of Technical Support also will assist in the investigation.

Thursday, August 30, 9 a.m.
EDTMSHA Appoints Team to Investigate Crandall Canyon Mine Accident

Labor Secretary says Bush administration committed to mine safety

Labor Secretary says Bush administration committed to mine safetyAugust 29, 2007 5:32 PM
U.S. Labor Secretary Elaine Chao says the Bush administration is committed to improving safety for miners under legislation passed last year.Chao spoke in Nashville today to the International Mine Rescue Conference.
She didn't discuss any specific safety issues related to the Utah mine collapse. That's where rescuers are drilling a seventh hole deep into a mountain to learn the fate of six miners trapped since August 6th.
Chao said many safety improvements have already been ordered under the mine safety bill signed by President Bush last June following a string of fatal mine accidents in 2006. These improvements include requiring additional stores of oxygen and better tracking equipment.

Update On Gold Miner

The search for a miner trapped in the Getchell Underground Mine near Golconda, Nevada, ended with the discovery of the body of Curtis "CJ" Johnson, 36, an employee of, and the first fatality ever experienced by, Small Mine Development (SMD), a Boise, Idaho-based contract underground mining company established 25 years ago.

A resident of Winnemucca, Nevada, Johnson is survived by a wife and three children. An investigation is now underway by MSHA, the Nevada State Mine Inspector and Barrick to determine what caused the ground to collapse and bury Curtis in the debris.

Johnson was operating a rock bolter at about 2 a.m. Tuesday when ground failure partially buried the equipment at the underground gold mine, which used to have a history of ground control issues. MSHA records revealed that the last fatality at the Getchell Mine was in 1997, when it was then owned by operated by the now defunct Getchell Gold Corp. The operation, which was last inspected by MSHA on August 1, received five minor citations, none of which pertained to ground control violations.
Barrick Manager, Communications and Community Affair, Lou Schack, told Mineweb Wednesday that the company regularly employs the services of SMD contractors at several small, underground gold mines due to their considerable experience in development and mining of small, underground deposits. SMD is the largest underground mine contractor in the U.S., employing 275 miners at eight different mines in the West. Current clients include Barrick (Getchell, Cortez Hills exploration project, Betze Drift Project in Nevada and Golden Sunlight Mine in Montana), Newmont (Leeville, Carlin), Yukon-Nevada Gold (Steer Project) and Unocal, molybdenum in New Mexico.

In 2003, SMD received a safety commendation from the National Mining Association for going without a reportable lost time accident at Getchell for the entire year of 2002.
A spokesman for the Nevada State Mine Inspector's Office told Mineweb Tuesday that they had not issued a notice or order for any violations at the Getchell Mine prior to Tuesday's accident. In fact, Nevada had experienced no fatalities last year.

However, in June 19th, Dan Shaw, 30, a blaster at Newmont Mining's nearby Midas Gold Mine, was operating an LHD when the ground collapsed; resulting in the state's first mining fatality this year. State and federal regulators suspended operations at Midas and are continuing their investigation of Shaw's death.
In total, six U.S. miners died in June and July at metal mining operations.

Ron Guill, owner of SMD, said in a statement issued by Barrick, one of the partners in the Turquoise Ridge JV that "CJ was an outstanding person and an excellent underground miner. Words simply can't express the sense of los that we at SMD feel today."
Getchell is one of two underground mines that make up the Turquoise Ridge JV with Newmont. The mines are located 30 miles north of Golconda, Nevada.
MSHA officials had not responded to Mineweb's request for comment as of deadline Thursday morning.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

MSHA denial of Crandall Canyon families’ participation in investigation a “travesty,” UMWA’s Roberts says

MSHA denial of Crandall Canyon families’ participation in investigation a “travesty,” UMWA’s Roberts says

If Congress doesn’t get answers, “no one else will be able to now.”
United Mine Workers of America (UMWA) International President Cecil E. Roberts issued the following statement today.

"Yesterday, the federal Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) denied the UMWA’s petition to be a miners’ representative in the Crandall Canyon disaster investigation. This is a travesty that will have the effect of silencing the voices of the families of those still missing in the mine as this investigation moves forward.
“This action means that there will be no independent voice at the table in MSHA’s investigation, questioning the actions of both the company and the federal government in this disaster. This outrageous action only confirms the rationale for our previous call for an independent, bi-partisan investigation of this disaster by Congress. By denying the families any participation in this investigation, MSHA is ensuring that it will be investigating itself in this tragedy, and American coal miners deserve better than that.
“We appeal to Congress to rectify this. These families should have the right to be full participants in this investigation, and they should be able to designate whoever they want to be their representatives.
“Let us not forget that 64 coal miners have been killed on the job in the last 20 months, and that does not include those still missing at Crandall Canyon. There are wives without husbands, children without fathers, parents without sons. Who more than they should have a right to participate in the investigations into the incidents that took their loved ones?
“The Crandall Canyon families have questions that demand answers. Why was the mining plan at Crandall Canyon submitted by Murray Energy when the previous owners of that mine declined to mine the same way, saying there was a problem with “protection of personnel?” Why did MSHA approve it?
“Why was the intent of Congress when it passed the MINER Act last year ignored by MSHA in this disaster? MSHA is clearly designated by that Act to take control of all communications with the media and the American public to prevent the very kind of inaccuracies and misleading statements made almost daily by Murray Energy CEO Bob Murray.
“Yet for more than a week after the incident occurred, MSHA was only a weak closing act at the “official” press conferences about the disaster. Murray could say anything he liked, true or not, and if MSHA had anything different to say, it was buried under Murray’s bombast.
“Just like after Sago, Aracoma and Darby in 2006, our government has let American coal miners down. I say again: Sixty-four coal miners have been killed in 20 months. Six more are missing. The carnage in the coalfields must stop. We are angry and we demand that someone answer for this. We call on Congress to get those answers, because if it doesn’t, no one else will be able to now.”

Nevada Gold Miner Missing in Ground Collapse

Nevada Gold Miner Missing in Ground Collapse

This morning the Times-News, Twin Falls, Idaho, reports a Nevada gold miner is missing after a ground collapse:

ELKO, Nev. -
An unidentified miner is missing after a ground failure at the Getchell underground mine occurred about 2 a.m. Tuesday at Barrick Gold of North America's Turquoise Ridge Mine near Golconda.According to Lou Schack, Barrick's director of communications and community affairs, the miner is an employee of the contract firm Small Mine Development....

The miner was operating a bolter - a piece of equipment that drills and installs rock bolts used to stabilize areas where mining occurs - when the ground failed, said Schack.The bolter was partially buried by debris, said Schack.Mine Safety and Health Administration representatives are on site and managing the rescue effort.There are two underground mines on the site - Barrick employees work the Turquoise Ridge operation and SMD runs Getchell.......the similar to a recent event at Newmont's Midas Mine. Dan Shaw, a loader operator, was killed June 19 when he and his loader fell roughly 100 feet following a ground failure.Thirteen days later his body was recovered in an MSHA-led operation. That accident remains under investigation....

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

MSHA fines Tri-Star Mining $180,000 for safety violations

MSHA fines Tri-Star Mining $180,000 for safety violations

Mine's action found to have contributed to fatalities

ARLINGTON, Va. - The U.S. Department of Labor's Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) has fined Tri-Star Mining Inc. $180,000 for safety violations contributing to an accident in Barton, Md., on April 17 that resulted in the death of two of the company's employees. Two miners were fatally injured while operating equipment in the pit when an unstable highwall collapsed. The collapse of the highwall released approximately 93,000 tons of rock and materials that filled the pit and covered both pieces of equipment, trapping the miners inside.
"Two miners lost their lives because federal safety laws were not followed," said Richard E. Stickler, assistant secretary of labor for mine safety and health. "Mine operators must be held accountable for their actions, and MSHA will not hesitate to issue stiff penalties against companies that fail to comply with health and safety regulations
." MSHA identified and cited three violations that contributed to the accident. The violations involved failure to establish and follow a ground control plan; failure to correct hazardous conditions and allowing miners to work under dangerous highwalls and a spoil bank; and failure to conduct adequate examinations of the highwall and spoil bank. Each violation carries the maximum civil penalty of $60,000.

Mine Workers Union Will Represent Crandall Canyon Families

Mine Workers Union Will Represent Crandall Canyon Families
by Mike Hall, Aug 28, 2007

The Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) refused a request from Crandall Canyon miners and their families that the Mine Workers (UMWA) represent them in the upcoming federal investigation into the Aug. 6 collapse that trapped and presumably killed six coal miners and the ensuing underground rescue attempt that cost the lives of three of the rescuers.
Mine Workers President Cecil Roberts says MSHA’s action is a ”travesty” and is ”outrageous.”
This action means that there will be no independent voice at the table in MSHA’s investigation, questioning the actions of both the company and the federal government in this disaster….These families should have the right to be full participants in this investigation, and they should be able to designate whoever they want to be their representatives.
The Murray Energy mine near Huntington, Utah, is a nonunion mine, but miners and their families are taking the same path that miners and their families at West Virginia’s Sago Mine did in 2006 when they sought UMWA’s help in investigating the explosion that killed 12 miners.
Federal regulations permit the UMWA to represent the miners at any mine, including nonunion mines, if two or more of them designate the union to represent them on safety issues.
Earlier, Bob Butero, a UMWA district representative, told the Salt Lake Tribune that Crandall Canyon miners sought the union’s help because they believed both the company and federal Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) officials were not keeping them informed or listening to their concerns.
They felt in this process there wasn’t a representative of the miners…they felt left out.
After the January 2006 Sago disaster, families turned to the UMWA, and following rallies, congressional hearings and investigations, they found answers about the blast and spearheaded the drive to pass new mine safety laws.
Utah mine co-owner Robert Murray has railed against the union on several occasions since the Aug. 6 collapse and has a long volatile history with the UMWA (click here for more). Before MSHA turned down the families’ request, Roberts said the UMWA was seeking to ensure that the Utah miners and survivors have a voice in the investigation.
We intend to be an objective participant in any upcoming investigations in order to help prevent the recurrence of this tragedy at any other mine in the United States, and to be a voice for the miners and their families. We have no further agenda in this matter.
While the federal law that allows the UMWA to take part in the probe at miners’ request only relates to the MSHA investigation, as in the aftermath in Sago, the union will play a large role in congressional investigations. A Senate panel already has scheduled a hearing next week and asked Roberts to testify; and the union is urging Congress to create an independent, bipartisan commission to investigate the causes of the Utah tragedy, examine the safety conditions at the mine and determine what role Murray Energy’s use of retreat mining—approved by MSHA—may have played.
Like families at Sago, Roberts says:
The Crandall Canyon families have questions that demand answers. Why was the mining plan at Crandall Canyon submitted by Murray Energy when the previous owners of that mine declined to mine the same way, saying there was a problem with “protection of personnel?” Why did MSHA approve it?
Yesterday, Rep. George Miller (D-Calif.) and chairman of the U.S. House Committee on Education and Labor sent requests to Murray Energy and the U.S. Department of Labor for documents and communications relating to the operation of the Crandall Canyon Mine. Says Miller:
Gathering this information is the first step in an investigative effort to learn what went wrong at the Crandall Canyon Mine and what we must do to prevent such tragedies in the future. The families of the miners, the public, and miners who still work underground every day deserve a full accounting of the events that led up to and followed the collapse at Crandall Canyon Mine.
In related mining news, International Federation of Chemical, Energy, Mine and General Workers’ Union (ICEM) reports recent mining disasters in China and Russia have claimed the lies of 340 coal miners.
In China’s Shandong Province, 181 Chinese coal miners died Aug. 17 when they were trapped inside two mines. ICEM says the disaster was the result of flash flood and negligence by the mining company that lead to a levee break on a nearby river. The 50-yard-wide gap allowed flood waters to pour into the adjacent mine. Nearly 600 miners did manage to escape.
In Russia’s Kemerovo and Vorkuta regions, 159 miners have died in the past three months in disasters that ICEM says
Is a clear indication of mining safety in the country is making miners’ hostages of profitability.
In two methane explosions, electrical short circuits sparked the blasts. ICEM reports there was deliberate tampering with methane detectors that then showed lower levels of the explosive gas than actually was present and bypassed an automatic shutdown of the electrical system, which would have prevented the explosion.

Families Of Trapped Miners Rebuffed By Mine Safety AgencyHuffington August 28, 2007 07:55 PM

The federal agency tasked with investigating the Utah mine collapse denied a request by the families of six trapped miners that the United Mine Workers represent them in the probe of the matter, the union said Monday.All six of the families had signed documents designating the union as their representative in the investigation, UMWA spokesman Phil Smith said. The Mine Safety and Health Administration told the union's attorneys on Monday that the agency would not heed the request.
"MSHA requires that miners sign these papers, but the miners in question were unable because the are trapped inside the mine," Smith said.
In a statement e-mailed to The Huffington Post, MSHA spokesman Dirk Fillpot defended the agency's actions, saying federal officials have spent "untold hours" briefing the families of the missing miners.
"We are disappointed that the UMWA is trying to use a law enforcement investigation for its own purposes," Fillpot said.
Six miners have been trapped underground since a large cave-in at the mine in the early hours of Aug. 6. Underground efforts to reach the miners have been suspended since a subsequent collapse killed three rescue workers on Aug 16.
In any accident investigation, miners have the legal right to designate the union as their representative during the probe, even if the miners are not union members. Crandall Canyon is not a union mine, and the UMWA does not represent workers there.
In the aftermath of the Sago tragedy in 2006, the owner of that mine sought to block the union's access to the site, even though a group of miners appointed the UMWA as their representative. MSHA attorneys obtained a court order that compelled the mine owner to allow union officials onto the property.
The distinction being drawn in the Crandall Canyon situation is that the miners' families -- rather than the miners themselves -- signed the documents requesting the union's participation.
"The Mine Safety and Health Act is clear on who can seek representation in these investigations," Fillpot said.
Despite MSHA's decision, Smith said the union would continue to take an active role in the Crandall Canyon probe.
"The families still want us to be their representatives as this investigation goes forward," Smith said.
He dismissed the notion that UMWA was attempting to unionize Crandall Canyon workers. Smith pointed out that the mine's owner, Bob Murray, has already announced that the mine would be permanently idled.
"That never was and never has been our goal there," Smith said.

Weather Delays Robot's Search for Miners

Weather Delays Robot's Search for Miners
Aug 28, 2007

As the search for six trapped miners entered its fourth week, bad weather postponed longshot efforts to drop a robotic camera deep into a Utah mountain to find the missing men.
Federal safety officials told the miners' families the weather also delayed drilling on a seventh borehole, said Colin King, the families' attorney.
"Not much happened due to the very difficult, muddy and rocky conditions up there," King said after an attempt Monday night to put the robotic camera down a previously drilled borehole.
Safety officials also cited unspecified technical problems for the delay, he said.
Officials refused to say Tuesday morning if the work had resumed. U.S. Labor Department spokesman Matthew Faraci said any new developments would first be reported to families of the missing miners.
The camera is similar to one used to search the wreckage of the World Trade Center after the 2001 terrorist attacks in New York City. It can travel 1,000 feet and has a 200-watt light so it can take images of objects up to about 50 feet away.
It was not known for certain if the camera would move past rock and other debris before gaining access to the mine. Still, King said rescuers planned to make another attempt to lower the camera once the weather cleared.
"There is no indication they are giving up," he said. "I think they are genuinely anxious to see if this robotic camera gets some results for them, and they did put it down the hole enough to see this is going to work."
The six miners have not been heard from since the Aug. 6 cave-in, which filled a mine tunnel with rock and coal in the area where the men were working. No one knows whether the men survived the collapse.
Mine officials and federal regulators have worked unsuccessfully to locate the men, drilling a half-dozen vertical holes into the mountain in hopes of finding signs of life.
Horizontal tunneling through the tons of debris inside was halted Aug. 16 after a second cave-in killed three rescuers, including a federal safety inspector, and injured six others.
On Monday, Emery County sheriff's dispatch tapes released to The Associated Press revealed that a seismologist was the first to notify authorities of a possible problem at the Crandall Canyon mine.
University of Utah seismologist Walter Arabasz made his call four minutes before mine officials called the sheriff's office seeking an ambulance.
The dispatch tapes showed that from the earliest moments scientists suspected the shaking came from a mine collapse, not a natural earthquake, as mine co-owner Bob Murray has maintained throughout the ordeal.
"Just from the general character of the seismic event, it looks like it might be a coal-mining event," Arabasz said on the tapes.
The first 911 call came at 3:47 a.m. from Arabasz in Salt Lake City, 120 miles north of the mine. At 3:51 a.m., a mine employee called for an ambulance.
"We had a big cave-in up here, and we are probably gonna need an ambulance. We're not for sure yet because we haven't heard from anybody in the section," a voice identifying himself as Mark Toomer told a 911 dispatcher. "But we're mostly likely going to need one up here."
Arabasz told the dispatcher the seismic event registered as 4.0 magnitude at 2:48 a.m., and it was 3.1 miles west-southwest of the mine entrance. The severity of the event was later revised to 3.9 magnitude.

Ravaging Appalachia

Ravaging Appalachia
The New York Times
Published: August 27, 2007
Give the Bush administration credit for persistence. It just won’t let a bad idea die. On Friday, the Interior Department’s Office of Surface Mining proposed new regulations that it hopes will permanently legalize mountaintop mining — a cheap, ruthlessly efficient, environmentally destructive means of mining coal from the mountains of Appalachia.

By our count, this is the third attempt in the last six years to enshrine the practice by insulating it from legal challenge. But since the net result is likely to be more confusion and more courtroom wrestling, the situation cries out for Congressional intervention to define once and for all what mining companies can and cannot do.

Mountaintop mining is basically high-altitude strip mining. Enormous machines scrape away the ridges to get at the coal seams below. The residual rock and dirt are then dumped or carted down the mountainside into nearby valleys and streams. By one estimate, this serial decapitation of Appalachia’s coal-rich hills has already buried 1,200 miles of streams while damaging hundreds of square miles of forests.

No recent administration, Democratic or Republican, has made a serious effort to end the dumping, largely in deference to the financial influence of the coal industry and the political influence of Robert Byrd, West Virginia’s senior senator. But the Bush people have been particularly resourceful in perpetuating the practice.

In 2002, for instance, the Environmental Protection Agency rewrote clean water regulations in a way that magically added mine waste to the list of materials that can be used to fill in streams for development and other purposes. In 2004, confronted with yet another obstacle — the so-called stream buffer zone rule prohibiting any mining activity within 100 feet of a stream — the administration decided that the rule only required companies to respect the buffer zone “to the extent practicable,” in effect green-lighting further dumping. The new rule not only reaffirms the 2004 rule but also seems specifically to authorize the disposal of “excess spoil fills,” a k a mine waste, in hollows and streams.

Studies have identified more benign, though admittedly more costly, ways to dispose of the waste, while other studies have warned that unless alternatives are found, an area larger than the state of Delaware will be laid waste by dynamite and bulldozer by the end of this decade, poisoning water supplies and leading to continuous flooding.

With that in mind, two members of Congress — Frank Pallone Jr. of New Jersey and Christopher Shays of Connecticut — introduced a bill last spring that would reaffirm Clean Water Act protections prohibiting mining companies and other industries from dumping solid industrial wastes into the nation’s waters. The bill has already picked up 60 sponsors in its brief life, and the administration’s latest sleight of hand should add more converts to the cause.

Statement of Stephen D'Esposito, EARTHWORKS President, on 1872 Mining Law Reform Hearings

Statement of Stephen D'Esposito, EARTHWORKS President, on 1872 Mining Law Reform Hearings 7/26/07 -

"Today the U.S. Congress takes an important step towards reforming one of the last remaining public-resource giveaways.

The House Subcommittee on Energy and Minerals hearing on HR 2262, the Hardrock Mining and Reclamation Act of 2007, addresses the need to update a law that is long past due for reform -- the 1872 Mining Law.
Although the law was passed before women could vote and long before the advent of national environmental laws, the 1872 Mining Law still governs mining for precious minerals -- such as gold, copper and uranium -- on public lands.

Reform is needed to ensure that any mining on public lands takes place in a manner that protects crucial drinking water supplies and other natural resources, special places, taxpayers, fish and wildlife habitat, and the health and well being of our communities.
I'd like to thank Chairmen Rahall and Costa for their commitment to this issue and their efforts to make the 135th birthday of the 1872 Mining Law it's last."

1872 Mining Law
Bingham Canyon mine, Utah.

The largest open-pit mine in North America.
A Law Passed to Settle the West
The 1872 Mining Law was signed into law by President Ulysses S. Grant. Before Custer's Last Stand, it was passed to promote the development and settlement of publicly-owned lands in the western United States
Taxpayer Ripoffs

The Mining Law promotes development by allowing mining interests to --
take valuable hardrock minerals including gold, silver, and uranium from public lands without royalty payment to the taxpayer -- unlike other mining industries that extract coal, oil or natural gas; buy valuable mineral bearing public lands for no more than $5 per acre -- 1872 prices.

Environmental Impacts
19th century America wasn't concerned with environmental protection. So the mining law doesn't contain environmental protection provisions. Communities and environments have paid the price.

One result:
hundreds of thousands of abandoned mines. According to EARTHWORKS estimates, it will cost taxpayers between $32-72 billion to clean up these mines. And taxpayers are potentially liable for billions more in cleanup costs at currently operating mines.

Another result:
according to the Environmental Protection Agency, 40% of the headwaters of western U.S. watersheds have been polluted by mining.

Mining Trumps
All Other Land Uses
The Mining Law has been historically interpreted to trump all other potential uses of public lands. If you hold a mining claim, that claim is treated as a right-to-mine by the federal government. The federal government is on record as saying that they cannot say no to mining proposals.

Even if those proposals threaten some of America's most special places. Even if those proposals pollute clean water.

The Need for ReformIt's the 21st century.
The western U.S. is developed. And settled. Now we need to take care of the people (and communities) that settled there.

Golden Sunlight mine, Montana.

The Way Forward

EARTHWORKS is working to reform this archaic law to better protect taxpayers, communities and the environment. We work with federal, state and local government, the mining industry, and impacted communities.
Representatives Nick Rahall (D-WV), Christopher Shays (R-CT), and Jay Inslee (D-WA) are introducing a bill to reform the 1872 Mining Law. The bill includes fiscal reform, environmental protection provisions, recognition of other land resource values besides mining, and a program to clean up abandoned mines.

Mining Law Basics
The 1872 Mining Law governs hardrock mining on 270 million acres of public-domain lands -- mostly in the Rocky Mountain West and Alaska. This constitutes almost one-fourth of all the land in the United States, or two thirds of the lands the federal government holds in trust for all Americans.

Hardrock Minerals
Practically speaking, hardrock minerals are mainly metals like gold, copper, and uranium. These metals constitute the vast majority of the value of mineral production governed by the Mining Law.

Specifically, hardrock minerals are actually defined by what they are not. When originally passed, the Mining Law governed all types of mining. Over the past 135 years, certain types of minerals have been removed from its jurisdiction -- including common materials like limestone, and bedded fuel minerals such as coal, oil and natural gas.

Public Domain
LandsPublic domain lands consist of lands ceded to the federal government by the thirteen original states, plus "acquisitions" from Native Americans and foreign powers, and that have remained continuously in federal control since acquisition. For example, the Louisiana Purchase was all public-domain lands at one time.

Public domain lands do not include lands purchased by the federal government within the existing boundaries of the United States. For example, almost all National Forests east of the Mississippi River are not public domain lands, even though they are publicly owned lands.

Establishing the Right to Mine
-- Staking a ClaimUnder the 1872 Mining Law, any U.S. citizen (including foreign companies with subsidiaries incorporated in the U.S.) can freely enter public domain lands to explore minerals. No permit needed. A small subset of public domain lands are excluded (e.g. National Parks).
According to the Mining Law, once you discover a valuable hardrock mineral, you can then establish your right to mine that mineral by staking a claim. In practice, the federal government rarely checks to see if you've actually made a valuable discovery.

"Highest and Best Use"
Once a claim is staked, the federal government has historically treated the claim as equivalent to a right to mine. All other types of mine proposals (e.g. coal) on public lands must be weighed against other potential land uses before permittal. But in the modern era, federal land management agencies have consistently argued that they cannot deny hardrock mining proposals because of the 1872 Mining Law -- federal land managers insist that, in the eyes of the Mining Law, mining is the highest and best use of public lands.

Fatalities to Date for 2007: 17

Fatalities to Date for 2007: 17
Last Updated: 08/19/2007
Fatality #1 - January 6, 2007
Handling Material - Underground - Colorado
Oxbow Mining, LLC - Elk Creek Mine

Fatalities #2 & #3 - January 13, 2007
Fall of Roof - Underground - West Virginia
Brooks Run Mining Company LLC - Cucumber Mine

Fatality #4 - March 12, 2007
Machinery - Surface - Kentucky
Double E Augering Inc - No. 3

Fatality #7 - April 5, 2007
Victim Died April 28, 2007 - Determined to be Chargeable

May 29, 2007
Stepping or Kneeling on Object - Underground -
Eighty Four Mining Company - Mine 84

Fatalities #5 & #6 - April 17, 2007
Fall of Highwall - Surface -
Tri-Star Mining Inc - Job #3

Fatality #8 - July 2, 2007
Powered Haulage - Surface -
Twin Pines Coal Company Inc - Mine #2

Fatality #9 - July 16, 2007
Explosives and Breaking Agents - Surface -
CAM Mining LLC - Three Mile Mine #1

Fatality #10 - July 30, 2007
Slip or Fall of Person - Other -
Jim Walter Resources, Inc. - No. 3 Mine

Fatality #11 - August 4, 2007
Machinery - Underground -
West Virginia
Rockhouse Creek Development, LLC - No. 8

Fatality #12 - #14 August 10, 2007
Slip or Fall of Persons - Underground -
Gibson County Coal, LLC - Gibson Mine

Fatality #15 - #17 August 16, 2007
Fall of Face or Rib - Underground -
Genwal Resources Inc. - Crandall Canyon Mine

Monday, August 27, 2007

A faint flicker of hope

A faint flicker of hope

Crandall Canyon Mine: Robotic cameras, seventh borehole planned as rescue effort begins Week 4

By Mike Gorrell The Salt Lake TribuneArticle Last Updated: 08/27/2007 11:28:19 AM MDT

- A robot has been deployed in the effort to locate six Crandall Canyon coal miners missing for three weeks after the mine's walls collapsed. Rescue organizers said Sunday they would attempt to lower a robot equipped with two cameras through one of two boreholes drilled into the "bleeder" tunnels at the back of the section where the miners were working Aug. 6 when the catastrophic collapse occurred.
Federal Mine Safety and Health Administration official Jack Kuzar emphasized that "it's a long shot. I repeat, it's a long shot. But we owe it to the families to do everything we can to find their loved ones."
This high-tech gamble, along with news that mine Press release from UtahAmerican Energy, Inc. co-owner Murray Energy Corp. will drill a seventh borehole, did raise the battered psyches of family members whose every-other hope of locating their miners - Manuel Sanchez, Brandon Phillips, Juan Carlos Payan, Luis Alonso Hernandez, Don Erickson and Kerry Allred - has been dashed.
The most recent disappointment came Saturday evening when the No. 6 borehole pierced the tunnel where the men were last mining, but determined it was filled to the brim with rubble from the blown-out walls.
"The families were encouraged that there was more activity going on. They were pleased to hear that efforts were continuing no matter how much of a long shot it is," said Edward Havas, a Salt Lake City attorney whose firm has been retained by several of the trapped miners' families to represent them.
"Any information we can glean is preferable to not having that information. We're hopeful that something will come of these efforts," he added. Havas was troubled, however, to hear mine owner Robert Murray reiterate Sunday that he intends to seal the mine after crews remove machinery between the entrance and the 2,500-foot-long area that filled with rubble when the walls imploded.
Repeating what he told MSHA officials on Aug. 17, the day after a second explosive outburst from the walls killed three rescuers and injured six others, Murray said "I'm closing it. That's an evil mountain and there's never been any question about [closure] since. . . . We'll put steel bars across the front of it or fencing so no one can get in, post guards there, let it sit and we'll decide later what we do with it." Responded Havas: "We understand that they want to recover their equipment, but I think our No. 1 priority has to be recovering these miners. It's not acceptable to the families or to [their attorneys] to seal this mountain up as long as those people are in there and if there's any possible hope of safely recovering them."
He did not take any consolation in Murray's plan to use steel bars or fencing rather than concrete or a more durable seal.
"What's more important to us is intent," Havas said. "If the intent is to seal this mountain and leave it, that's not acceptable, no matter what the mechanism is. If the intent is to keep the mine intact and allow access to it again in the future, that will be less objectionable."
The robotic search will take place before any seals are completed. Kuzar said rescue organizers have been "working on this robot since day one [of the search], but we didn't want to give anyone false hope." It arrived at the mine site Friday night.
Robin Murphy, director of the Institute for Safety Security Research Technology at the University of South Florida, said the 8-inch-wide robot would be lowered down either borehole No. 3 or No. 4 sometime Sunday evening.
The robot team, which spent 11 hours Saturday testing the equipment, will decide which hole to use based on the likelihood of getting it through the broken but twisted wire mesh along the roof of the tunnel. She said it will take one hour to lower the robot down the shaft and then it will be manipulated along the tunnel floor, which is not covered with much rubble in that area. It will then use two cameras to look around the underground environment for an undetermined length of time. No timetable has been set for when images could come.
"We'll move slowly, look very thoroughly, move forward, look very thoroughly," she said. "It's a very laborious process. . . . We have no reason to move fast." Through spokeswoman Lisa Roskelley, Gov. Jon Huntsman, Jr. praised the decision to utilize the robot. "The governor has asked for every technology possible to at least be looked at," she said. The No. 7 borehole is targeted at the area where miners store their lunch buckets and would have been a likely place for them to go - if they had time.
The drill is expected to penetrate the mine Tuesday or Wednesday. It was within an area targeted by the first borehole, but that small shaft drifted as it was drilled through the mountain. Havas said the families had long pushed for rescue organizers to look for their men there.

Letter: Bob Murray's letter to Governor Huntsman, August 22, 2007

Letter: Bob Murray's letter to Governor Huntsman, August 22, 2007

With coal production, cleaner skies could mean more landfills

With coal production, cleaner skies could mean more landfills
August 27, 2007 4:00 AM

As the nation's coal-fired power plants work to create cleaner skies, they'll likely fill up landfills with millions more tons of potentially harmful ash.More than one-third of the ash generated at the country's hundreds of coal-fired plants is now recycled _ mixed with cement to build highways or used to stabilize embankments, among other things.
But in a process being used increasingly across the nation, chemicals are injected into plants' emissions to capture airborne pollutants.
That, in turn, changes the composition of the ash and cuts its usefulness. It can't be used in cement, for example, because the interaction of the chemicals may keep the concrete from hardening.
That ash has to go somewhere _ so it usually ends up in landfills, along with the rest of the unusable waste.
Energy and Environmental Research Center at the University of North Dakota research engineer Bruce Dockter says that's replacing an air problem with a land problem, or a disposal problem.

Crandall Canyon Mine Information

Crandall Canyon Mine Information Sunday, August 26, 5 p.m. EDT
Statement on Crandall Canyon Mine by MSHA Assistant Secretary Richard E. Stickler
ARLINGTON, Va. - Richard E. Stickler, assistant secretary of the Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) issued the following statement today on Crandall Canyon Mine:

"Unfortunately, borehole number six did not provide us with conclusive evidence of the fate of the six trapped miners. However, we have identified another location to drill that may provide us additional details as to what may have happened to the miners. We are pleased that Mr. Murray has agreed to drill this additional borehole."

UMWA safety chief named to Utah panel investigating Crandall Canyon

United Mine Workers of America International President Cecil E. Roberts issued the following statement today:

"I am extremely pleased that Governor Jon Huntsman has named UMWA Health and Safety Administrator Dennis O'Dell to the newly created Utah Mine Safety Commission.
"Mr. O'Dell is nationally recognized as one of the leading experts on mine safety. His work on a similar commission established in the wake of last year's Sago mine disaster in West Virginia was instrumental in the writing of tougher regulations that have enhanced miner safety.
"I also applaud Governor Huntsman for recognizing that the Crandall Canyon disaster warrants a thorough investigation conducted independent of parties involved in the approval of the mining operation and rescue effort there."

UMWA asked to represent miners in Crandall Canyon disaster

FAIRFAX, VA–The United Mine Workers of America today filed papers with the Mine Safety and Health Administration designating the union as a miners' representative in the upcoming investigation into the Crandall Canyon mine disaster in Utah.
"Miners and their families want to make sure that the whole truth about the events leading up to and following the accident and rescue is revealed, and they firmly believe that the UMWA will make sure that it is," said UMWA International President Cecil E. Roberts. "We will do all that we can to be worthy of their trust."
Federal regulations permit the UMWA to represent the miners at any mine if two or more of them designate the union to represent them on safety issues.
"We intend to be an objective participant in any upcoming investigations in order to help prevent the recurrence of this tragedy at any other mine in the United States, and to be a voice for the miners and their families," Roberts said. "We have no further agenda in this matter." s

Letting go is difficult in mine cave-ins

Letting go is difficult in mine cave-ins

Monday, August 27, 2007
By Dennis B. Roddy, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Joe Manchin was 21 when the Farmington No. 9 Mine blew up with a roar that shook the town nearby, sent a mushroom cloud of smoke and dust into the West Virginia sky and trapped 78 men.
One of them was John Gouzd, Mr. Manchin's uncle.
After nine days of trying to reach the men, Consolidation Coal, the mine's owner, gathered families in the company store for a meeting.
"They made the announcement that the mine would be sealed," Mr. Manchin, now West Virginia's governor, remembered. He can't recall who was speaking. He just remembers the words, then the groans and cries.
"I can only tell you there was no one in that room that would have agreed that you should close it," he said. "After you thought about it, it all made sense. If you were thinking at all, it wasn't rationally. After nine days you were numb."
Five years later, searchers found a few fragments of John Gouzd. Most of him remains in the mine, along with 19 other men who share a mountain for a grave.
The decision to call off the search at Farmington, a call fraught with passions that stretch from rage to resignation, has been played out time and again by rescue teams, mine safety officials and engineers who are sometimes called to apply mathematics to a scene of strife.
Last week, amid seismic shifts that killed three of the rescuers at the Crandall Canyon Mine in Utah, where six miners became trapped in a massive collapse, someone in charge said, in effect, "Enough."
But yesterday, despite drilling a sixth hole and finding nothing, officials changed their minds and said the search will continue.
In an announcement that thrilled miners' families, federal and mine company officials said a seventh hole will be bored into the Crandall Canyon mine and a special robotic camera will be lowered into a hole drilled previously.
"We always have said that we won't leave anybody behind. We try to come after them. That is when we think that they're alive. But that is a real tricky situation," said Buddy Webb, president of the United States Mine Rescue Association.
Making the call, though, now is a team decision.
"I don't think it's up to the rescue teams anymore," said Tom Hoffman, vice president of Consol.
Instead, the Mine Safety and Health Administration, which evolved as new mine-safety laws were enacted after Farmington, now makes the final call. Mr. Webb wasn't involved in the rescue at Crandall Canyon, but said the process there likely was two-pronged.
"MSHA would have a big part in it, but it's the mine owners, too, that kind of weigh that situation," he said.
The earlier decision was relayed in startlingly different ways. Mine Safety and Health Administration director Richard Stickler worded his explanation cautiously. Robert Murray, the mine's co-owner who used earlier news conferences to expound on everything from mine safety to his disbelief in global warming, bluntly told family members the men were dead.
Making the call to end a rescue, or to transform a rescue into a recovery, takes a skill set that is as yet undefined, say the people who specialize in saving the lost.
"There's no hard and fast science to that. Every case-by-case instance has to be determined," said Dave Pichotta, a deputy sheriff in San Bernardino, Calif., who heads up the search and rescue teams that fetch tourists and adventurers from caves and mountainsides.
Mr. Pichotta's group never officially calls off a search.
"We continue to put teams in there for training and other issues and just recover whatever we may be able to recover. We will end up telling someone that we have scaled the operation back," he said.
When Rod Henry and team members from Consol's Pennsylvania-based mine-rescue squad arrived at the Sago Mine in January 2006, one of the major issues became precisely when to begin the rescue attempt for 13 trapped miners. It was the flip side of the question about when to end it.
What they had in mind was a disaster five years earlier at the Jim Walters Resources Mine in Alabama, where a team of rescuers rushed into the mine after a catastrophic explosion and were hit by a secondary blast. Thirteen rescuers died.
"In mine rescue, we have three priorities," Mr. Henry said. The second and third deal with retrieving the living and securing the mine.
"The No. 1 priority," he said, "is team safety. We will not endanger the team to rescue people you're not sure are alive."
Rescue teams at Sago waited for hours for the air in the mine to clear. Only one of the 13 miners was found alive.
Even thought officials have decided to try again, repeated bore-hole drilling into the Crandall Canyon mine have showed little oxygen and no signs of life.
At Crandall Canyon last week, both MSHA and Murray Energy, the company that co-owns the mine, called in a team of engineering experts to assess the condition of the mine and the 2,000-foot mountain atop it to decide whether further tunneling was feasible.
From all accounts then, the answer was uniform: There was no reason to think a rescue tunnel could be dug without risk that it would collapse around the rescuers.
Keith A. Heasley, a mining engineering professor at West Virginia University, was part of a seven-member panel that spent hours examining the data that would feed last week's life-and-death decision.
"In one sense, I think we put our blinders on and we attacked it as an engineering problem: Is there a way to get in here where the roof's not going to fall on you?" Mr. Heasley said.
When the answer was "no," the panel's job became putting together a brief, written paragraph that measured risks and probability. That statement would become the basis for MSHA's decision last week to end the digging.
"It took hours to write a couple of paragraphs," Mr. Heasley said. "We all knew, I think, what the possible implications of that might be."

Union says miners called it in

Union says miners called it in

By Nate Carlisle
The Salt Lake Tribune
Article Last Updated: 08/25/2007 04:08:28 AM MDT

HUNTINGTON - A miners union says it now represents workers at the nonunion Crandall Canyon mine on safety issues and in any discussion involving the rescue or recovery of six men trapped in the mine. Bob Butero, of the United Mine Workers of America office in Wheat Ridge, Colo., arrived at the mine's entrance Friday afternoon to serve a written notice to the Emery County Sheriff's Office. The notice said the union will represent miners from Crandall Canyon in future discussions with the Mine Safety and Health Administration. Butero said the union's discussions with MSHA will include how to proceed with the recovery of the six trapped miners. The union's presence does not mean Crandall Canyon workers have organized, he said. In an interview outside the sheriff's command post, Butero cited a section of federal law allowing a union to represent nonunion mine workers when two or more miners request it. He would not say how many miners requested the union's assistance. "They felt in this process there wasn't a representative of the miners," Butero said. "I guess they felt left out."
Mine ownership did not return a phone call seeking comment. The UMWA has been a vocal critic since the Aug. 6 collapse that trapped the six miners. The union criticized the owners of the Crandall Canyon mine for practicing "retreat mining," where coal and rock
HUNTINGTON - A miners union says it now represents workers at the nonunion Crandall Canyon mine on safety issues and in any discussion involving the rescue or recovery of six men trapped in the mine. Bob Butero, of the United Mine Workers of America office in Wheat Ridge, Colo., arrived at the mine's entrance Friday afternoon to serve a written notice to the Emery County Sheriff's Office. The notice said the union will represent miners from Crandall Canyon in future discussions with the Mine Safety and Health Administration. Butero said the union's discussions with MSHA will include how to proceed with the recovery of the six trapped miners. The union's presence does not mean Crandall Canyon workers have organized, he said.
In an interview outside the sheriff's command post, Butero cited a section of federal law allowing a union to represent nonunion mine workers when two or more miners request it. He would not say how many miners requested the union's assistance. "They felt in this process there wasn't a representative of the miners," Butero said. "I guess they felt left out." Mine ownership did not return a phone call seeking comment.

The UMWA has been a vocal critic since the Aug. 6 collapse that trapped the six miners. The union criticized the owners of the Crandall Canyon mine for practicing "retreat mining," where coal and rock pillars supporting the ceiling are removed, and federal regulators for allowing the practice. Retreat mining is suspected of being a factor in the Aug. 6 collapse and the one 10 days later that killed three men trying to reach the trapped men. This week, the UMWA wrote congressional leaders to request an independent investigation of the mine. Robert Murray, whose company is co-owner of the Crandall Canyon mine, has lambasted the UMWA and accused the organization of using the six trapped miners as an opportunity to organize the mine. Butero said the union believes the six trapped miners should not be left where they are but said he doesn't know the best way to remove them because he was not privy to all the information. "Our stance is that decision should not be taken lightly," Butero said. "It should be fully evaluated."

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Crandall Canyon mine tragedy timeline

Crandall Canyon mine tragedy timeline

* Aug. 6, 2:48 a.m.: Crandall Canyon mine collapse registers 3.9 magnitude. Six miners trapped, four escape.
* Aug. 6, afternoon: Rescue crews enter a tunnel parallel to the one the miners are thought to be in, only to find it has collapsed.
* Aug. 8, 10 p.m.: A 2 1/2 -inch drill penetrates the mine from above, but a microphone lowered into the cavity picks up no sound.
* Aug. 10, 12:10 a.m.: First air sample from 2-inch borehole has 20% oxygen; readings at 1:45 a.m. have it down to 7.2%, a level too low to sustain life.
* Aug. 11, 8:15 a.m.: Camera is dropped down a 8 -inch borehole. Images reveal a "survivable space," but no other signs of life.
* Aug. 12, 2 p.m.: New video images show mining equipment, but no signs of the miners. Rescue teams prepare to drill a third borehole, targeting tunnels deeper in the mine where the miners might have fled.
* Aug. 14, 6:30 p.m.: Miners have recaptured about 750 feet of the collapsed fresh-air tunnel, leaving 1,720 feet to go. They have endured a number of mountain "bumps" that threaten cave-ins and force rescue teams from the mine.
* Aug. 15, 10:15 a.m.: The third borehole intersects mine; microphone detects no sound.

Aug. 16, 6:39 p.m.: Some 30 feet of the main tunnel collapses. Three rescue workers are killed, six others hospitalized. All rescue efforts are suspended.
* Aug. 18, 9 a.m.: Fourth drill hole penetrates mine. No signs of life.
* Aug. 22, 8:30 a.m.: Fifth drill hole reveals a 6-inch space in a tunnel filled with rubble.
* Aug. 25, 6 p.m.: Sixth borehole, which officials say will be the last, hits the mine. No air space is detected in a tunnel filled with rubble. Mine co-owner Robert Murray announces he is shutting down the Tower Mine outside of Price, citing safety concerns.

* Aug. 26, 3 p.m.: Federal mine officials announce a plan to sink a seventh borehole, this one in the "kitchen" where miners store their lunch boxes. Also, a robotic camera will be lowered into an earlier hole to search for signs of life.

Families struggle with latest bad news

Families struggle with latest bad news

Some still hold out hope while others just want to get the bodies out

By Kristen Moulton and Judy Fahys The Salt Lake Tribune August 26, 2007

HUNTINGTON - Families of the six trapped men in the Crandall Canyon mine grappled with the grim news Saturday night that a sixth borehole that pierced into the mine found only rubble and no sign of the missing miners.
For some, it was confirmation of what their hearts and minds had slowly come to believe - that the men likely perished in the mine collapse on Aug. 6.
For others, the news was no reason to lose hope in a miracle.
Cesar Sanchez, whose brother, Manuel Sanchez, is among the six trapped miners, represents both.
“If there's a miracle, we'd like to see one,” said Cesar Sanchez of Price, calling Saturday's news “not what we were hoping for.”
Yet, like other family members, Sanchez's concern now is that his brother does not remain buried under 1,800 feet of sandstone, dirt and coal 15 miles west of Huntington.
Sanchez said the trapped miners' families want to see a seventh hole bored into the mine to try to locate any survivors.
Terry Erickson of Price said the final two boreholes into the mountain, which revealed no life, stripped him of hope his brother, Don Erickson of Helper, would be found alive.
“We've kind of given that up,” Erickson said Saturday evening.
“We just want to get them out of there,” added Erickson. “We need to get them out of there one way or the other.'”
The two brothers went to work in the Crandall Canyon mine about three years ago, but Terry Erickson said he quit last year after UtahAmerican Energy acquired the mine and began taking away bonus pay and holidays. He now works in a Wyoming coal mine and commutes home to Price on his days off.
Don Erickson, who worked at Helper Auto and for a coal-hauling company before taking the miner's job, remained at Crandall Canyon mine.
In Emery County to the south, Sheila Phillips said she doesn't know whether to use the past or present tense when talking of her son, Brandon, 24.
“He was beautiful,” she said Saturday. “He is beautiful. I guess I'm not sure yet.”
Brandon had been working at the Crandall Canyon mine just three weeks, lured by high pay that could have allowed him and his 5-year-old son to move out of his parents' Orangeville home.
Brandon, his mother said, would not be dissuaded from becoming a miner, even though he knew of the pain his family endured when his uncle, Ray Snow, died in the Wilberg mining disaster of 1984. Snow was Sheila Phillips' brother.
Brandon was just a 1-year-old at the time, and the tragedy was not a constant theme in the home, Sheila Phillips said.
“That was what he was determined to do.”
At Emery High School just down the road from the Phillips home, about 100 people gathered to raise money for the miners at a benefit organized by Utah's cowboy poets.
Former Brigham Young University and NBA basketball standout Shawn Bradley - an Emery High grad - played host at the event, and Huntington Mayor Hilary Gordon accepted a framed poem for the three rescuers who were killed, the six who were injured and the six who are trapped.
Gordon said the information from the sixth borehole, though tragic in its implications, might help the families reach some resolution about the miners caught in the cave-in nearly three weeks ago.
“It would give me some comfort . . . that my loved one was not gasping for air, that he did not suffer,” she said.
In recent days, she said, the waiting and hoping was tearing at family members, filling the entire community with tension, sadness and grief.
“It was agony for those families,” she said.
After Saturday night's news, the families of Carlos Payan and Luis Hernandez stopped by Mission San Rafael, a Catholic church, outside Huntington. They heard about the prayers on their behalf from people near and far.
A friend said they were not ready to make a public statement, but that they remain hopeful.
___________________________________________________________United States Mine Rescue Association

Bodies of victims in Inner Mongolia colliery blast retrieved

Bodies of victims in Inner Mongolia colliery blast retrieved Xinhua -

ChinaAugust 26, 2007

HOHHOT, Aug. 26 (Xinhua) -- Rescuers have retrieved the bodies of seven miners killed in a coal mine gas explosion in north China's Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region, local work safety watchdog said on Sunday.
The bodies were lifted out of the Liyuan coal mine in Holin Gol City in the east of the region at 5:17 a.m. Sunday, the regional work safety bureau said.
A gas blast occurred around 2:10 a.m. Saturday in the Liyuan mine when 23 people were working underground. Seven were killed and the rest managed to escape.
Local police have detained several people from the mine, and are hunting for another runaway shareholder of the mine.
Investigators said the mine was under technical renovation and it should not have been operating when the accident happened.
All coal mines in the city were ordered to halt production for safety checks after the blast.
___________________________________________________________United States Mine Rescue Association

Ex-miner is troubled by disaster

Ex-miner is troubled by disasterDeseret News - Salt Lake City,UT,USAAugust 26, 2007

Blake Hanna of Price knows this about mining: Disasters happen. In 1963, at the age of 27, he was among 25 miners trapped inside the Cane Creek potash mine in Moab after a gas explosion. Hanna spent 19 hours underground before being one of seven who survived.
In 1984, at the age of 48, he was part of a Mining Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) team that helped organize rescue attempts at the Wilberg mine outside Price after fire trapped and killed 27 miners.
Now retired at 71, Hanna has spent the month watching and waiting as the Crandall Canyon Mine disaster near Huntington has killed three rescuers and left six miners trapped.
"There's not a family in Carbon-Emery County who hasn't lost someone in the mines," says Hanna.
Such familiarity, however, doesn't make it any easier.
Like most folks with mining roots, Hanna has opinions about Crandall Canyon.
Because of where he's been and what he's seen, people tend to listen to him.
Among other things, he's saying this:
• It was "bad mining practices" that caused the cave-in.
• The buried miners need to be recovered, even if it means hauling out their bodies so they can be buried again.
• And if there's anything positive that can come out of this, it's a wake-up call that miners themselves need to blow the whistle on unsafe mine operations before tragedies occur. Citing the federal mining act, amended in 1977, Hanna says, "Miners have full rights to report anything they believe is endangering them to a hotline number, a toll-free number, that is posted at all the mines and does not identify who calls.
"We read about families who say they (the Crandall Canyon miners) were fearing for their safety," says Hanna. "Well, why didn't they use the hotline?"
Hanna notes that Crandall Canyon, in its way, was placing its own hotline calls. Seismic activity recorded as long ago as last March showed the mountain was unstable.
"They'd been warned. It seems like you're always pre-warned," says Hanna. "And yet they went right on and didn't learn."
Hanna has great empathy for the six trapped miners. He remembers those 19 hours he spent entombed in 1963 like it was yesterday.
"God saved me, and the rescuers went through pure hell to get to me, you couldn't say enough about them," he says.
That said, he's convinced the Crandall Canyon six, if still alive, "would never want someone to give up their life to save theirs."
Current conditions, in his opinion, are too dangerous.
"Over time, seismic activity should subside," says Hanna. "Then it could be feasible to send somebody down in a capsule. But right now we need to be logical."
Hanna points to the Wilberg disaster, where bodies weren't recovered for more than a year. But they were recovered.
"Families need to have that closure," says Hanna. "And there's plenty of money to do it. (Crandall Canyon Mine co-owner) Bob Murray is the 12th-largest coal mine operator in the United States. And it was his company that got those men trapped in the first place."
___________________________________________________________United States Mine Rescue Association

Nearly 300 workers laid off as Murray shutters Tower mine

Nearly 300 workers laid off as Murray shutters Tower mine

Murray says it will remain closed 'until I can make it safe'

By Nate Carlisle and Mike Gorrell The Salt Lake Tribune

August 26, 2007
PRICE - Crandall Canyon mine co-owner Robert Murray began telling nearly 300 workers Saturday they will lose their jobs because he plans to shutter the Tower mine.
Murray began what miners say he described as 270 temporary layoffs Saturday afternoon. Miner Jared Simms, a 32-year-old father of four from Helper, said Murray told miners the Tower mine would remain closed "until I can make it safe."
Miners say Murray met with about 50 people during the afternoon shift at the West Ridge mine, apologizing for the disaster at Crandall Canyon mine. But he also said it has become impossible for him to do business in Utah.
Simms said Murray told the miners some of the Tower employees would be transferred to West Ridge while others would have the chance to work in Murray Energy's coal mines in Ohio and Illinois. Simms quoted Murray as saying the company would pay for the miners' way back to the Midwest and for their board in a bunkhouse, but that miners would have to pay their own way back to Utah if they wished to visit their families during their one week off after working three weeks.
Murray also asked miners not to tell their wives or families about the layoffs until he told the other miners.
After Murray's statement, Simms said, West Ridge employees went outside and awaited word from mine general manager Darrell Leonard, who told them individually which ones were fired and which ones weren't.
"I walked in and he said 'you're laid off,' " Simms said. "I walked downstairs, handed my rescuer's [breathing apparatus] to the bosses downstairs, grabbed all my stuff and was told not to tell anybody about this meeting until 9 a.m. [today], including my wife," Simms said.
"How can I come home early with all my work stuff and not tell my wife?" he wondered. "How am I supposed to tell my kids I don't have a job now. How am I supposed to do all this, keep my mouth shut for 16 hours. That's what he wanted me to do. I'm not very happy about it."
In the meeting to announce the layoffs, Simms said, Murray lambasted Gov. Jon Huntsman Jr. for the criticism he has lobbed at Murray and his mining operation. He also criticized The Salt Lake Tribune for its coverage. Murray also railed against Sen. Edward Kennedy of Massachusetts, who has asked for federal documents related to the Crandall Canyon mine.
In an Aug. 22 letter to Huntsman, Murray said miners' jobs could be in jeopardy.
" . . . It is unfortunate that I must be distracted from our rescue efforts to write this private letter to you, but, if you persist in your statements and your course of action, you governor, are going to jeopardize the 700 jobs in Carbon and Emery County," he wrote. "I cannot maintain them alone, and I definitely cannot do it if I'm going to be your whipping boy."
Murray declined to discuss the layoffs with The Tribune Saturday night. Murray owns the Tower mine, and co-owns the West Ridge mine in Carbon County and the Crandall Canyon mine where Kerry Allred, Don Erickson, Luis Alonso Hernandez, Juan Carlos Payan, Brandon Phillips and Manuel Sanchez have been trapped since an Aug. 6 collapse.
The Tower mine has leased reserves of about 19.3 million tons, according to the latest Utah Coal Report, which was released by the Utah Geological Survey last week. This year, about two years after the Pinnacle portion of the mine was closed, the Aberdeen section was expected to yield about 1.8 million tons of coal.
About 215 miners were expected to be on the payroll to do the job, according to the report, which is based on projections submitted by companies to the state.
But the report also hinted at some trouble at the mine - basically getting to the coal safely. One issue is the coal seam's depth, now about 2,800 feet below the mountain's surface and planned to be another 400 feet deeper, "deeper than any longwall machine has ever successfully been used in the United States.
In addition, the Coal Report notes: "To mitigate "bounce" problems, large barriers of coal are left between longwall panels for additional support." The mine also has ventilation problems that were forcing a decrease in production this year.
At the same time, Murray Energy has secured leases on federal land for about 16.5 million tons of coal. To mine it, the company would have to mine below the old mine workings of another mine.
Work is expected to begin on that in 2010 on this Kenilworth seam. And longwall mining was to begin in 2012.
Brad King, a Democrat who represents Price in the state House, said he had been told the Murray Energy Corp. had assembled a team, including company specialists from the East, to evaluate the mining plans at the company's three Utah mines. The Mining Safety and Health Administration was also being consulted, he said.
___________________________________________________________United States Mine Rescue Association