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Front Page » August 7, 2007 » Local News » Six workers trapped in Crandall Canyon mine
Published 2,694 days ago

Six workers trapped in Crandall Canyon mine


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By PATSY STODDARD
Editor


Local officials discuss their rescue strategy for retrieving six miners lost in the Crandall Canyon Mine.

Early Monday morning, a cave-in at the Crandall Canyon mine in Huntington Canyon which trapped six workers in the underground shafts.

At approximately 3:47 a.m. on Aug. 6, a call came into the Emery County Sheriff's Office dispatch center reporting that an earthquake had occurred and the epicenter was in the vicinity of the UtahAmerican Energy Inc. mining operation in Crandall Canyon.

At approximately 3:51 a.m., the Crandall Canyon reported damage at the mine.

The earthquake was believed to have occurred 1,500 feet underground and approximately 5,000 feet south of where the six miners remained trapped late Monday afternoon.

During the day, assessments were being made at the scene and rescue crews from at least two other mines were brought in to locate the underground workers.

Monday afternoon, a press conference was scheduled and UtahAmerican chief executive officer Bob Murray spoke to the media. He stated that he came to the scene from Montana at the first call reporting trouble within the mine. Upon arriving in Emery County, he visited missing miners' families.

"Our company employs 3,300 employees throughout the United States," said Murray. "Six employees have been trapped in the mine as a result of an earthquake and damage underground has occurred. Hopefully, we will rescue them."

Four men working in the same area escaped without difficulty. The names of the trapped miners have not been released. However, the family members were notified immediately.

Utah American Energy owner Robert Murray conducts a press conference at the Crandall Canyon rescue command post. Mine rescue and public safety officials are searching for six unaccounted for local coal miners.

Along with UtahAmerican officials, United States Mine Health and Safety were at the scene of the incident.

"Ted Farmer is the supervisor of the Price office for MSHA, stated Murray. "He is on the scene and so is Doug Johnson, the director of our corporate services."

"We have the best personnel on the site. We have professionals from safety and rescue teams," continued the company's chief executive officer. "The focus of this effort is the evacuation of the trapped miners. We know where the men are located and we will get to them. It's just a matter of how quickly. All that is humanly possible is being done and as quickly as possible."

According to the authorities, the miners are trapped approximately 3.4 miles from the entrance of the mine.

As of Monday evening, there had been no contact with the trapped underground coal miners.

Murray stated the area where the miners are trapped is in crosscuts 126-130. The site is a large area which reportedly has plenty of air and water. Murray hoped the miners are back behind the caved-in part of the mine.

The company's chief executive officer emphasized that there are four methods being utilized to access the trapped miners, but would not elaborate on the matter. He said he would let everyone know which method had been successful when the time comes.

Murray said he wanted to dispel the rumor that active mining had caused an earthquake.

When asked what Castle Valley resident could do to assist the rescue efforts, the chief executive officer simply said to pray.

"Our company has a great safety record. In 20 years, we have never had a serious accident," stated Murray. "There is a good chance we will find the men unblemished. We have 71 miners employed at the Crandall Canyon mine. We also operate the Tower mine, West Ridge mine and the Wildcat loadout facility. We employ 700 people in this area."

One of the reporters at the press conference near Crandall Canyon points out on a map where the cave-in took place in the mine on Monday morning. There is some dispute over whether the cave in was the result of an earthquake or if seismic instruments recorded the shocks from the cave-in instead.

As he fielded questions about the cave-in, a reporter asked the chief executive officer about gases in the mine.

Murray indicated that Crandall Canyon is not a mine that has gas problems.

The chief executive officer also told the reporters that he has been in mining for 50 years and has been trapped before.

"The safety of the employees is our primary concern," stated Murray. "This is very serious and we are leaving no stone unturned in getting these men out. Hope and prayers and the best expertise available is all we have."

Murray pointed out that there are four rescue teams and other employees on the site.

The company is also moving in machinery from other mines and some are also being brought in by helicopter.

Murray said updates on information will occur every two hours.

"Trust us, we are doing everything we can," said Murray. "I talked to the families and they aren't saying much. I hope it all turns out to be good news. We have numerous men underground working to get them out."

On Monday afternoon, it was not known how much area had been impacted by the cave-in, but officials speculated that the area might only involved a few hundred yards.

While there was considerable speculation at the site that the cave-in had been caused by an earthquake, an e-mail press release from the University of Utah indicated that the seismic activity was reportedly triggered by the underground disturbance and collapse of the mine.

"There is no evidence that the earthquake triggered the mine collapse," stated the release. which was quoting Walter Arabasz, the director of seismographic stations for the school. "Some news media are reporting incorrectly that the quake triggered the mine collapse, apparently because the cave-in first was reported about an hour after the quake."

Arabasz said the seismic wave patterns from the quake appear consistent with the idea that the mine collapse was the source of the seismic waves recorded as the earthquake.



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