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Front Page » August 14, 2007 » Local News » Rescue continues at Crandall Canyon mine for trapped miners
Published 2,687 days ago

Rescue continues at Crandall Canyon mine for trapped miners


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By PATSY STODDARD
Editor

The community gathers together on Friday at the Huntington Elementary to show their support and prayers for the six miners, their families and the rescue workers who continue to work hard to find their friends and family members.

On Monday, Aug. 13, the press conference on the rescue efforts for the trapped miners was held at the bottom of the mine road. Richard Stickler, assistant secretary of labor for the mine safety and health administration, updated the press.

He said they had met with the families and explained in detail all the information they have available. They showed the families the video footage taken overnight.

Stickler went into detail on the drilling efforts taking place since the first day on Aug. 6. He said the 2.5 inch bore hole went in as quickly as possible to allow listening equipment to be placed down the hole. The large 8 5/8th inch hole came into the mine within two feet of where it was planned. The casing which is a steel liner was inserted down this larger hole. The second video showed better quality pictures but it was determined more light was needed. The third time the camera was inserted with more light and more detailed pictures were produced. When hole number two isn't being used for pictures then air is inserted into that hole at a rate of 2,000 cubic feet per minute. While the hole is being used for the camera, free flowing air moves into the hole at a rate of 340 cubic feet per minute.

Stickler said they have tried to guess where the miners might go in this situation since they couldn't go out the main entry. They are drilling the next hole in-by a bleeder entry. Stickler said they have concern that with the seismic activity a rush of unsuitable air came into the mine. Oxygen deficiency in the active area of the mine could come from the sealed area to the north. They can't identify specifically where it came from. Mine rescue workers have been in the north sealed area setting up monitoring devices. The south side will also be evaluated. In the near future, the rescue effort will have to deal with a lot of oxygen deficient air. Ventilation in the original seismic activity knocked out ventilation to cross cut 95. A lot of force was involved and good air was also forced in-by which could create pockets of good air where the miners could go. There is also talk of drilling a fourth hole.

The underground work is going slowly according to Stickler. They have moved from crosscut 120 to crosscut 124. This is 645 feet of groundwork progression so far as of press conference time of 1:30 p.m. on Monday.

"The miners are continuing to work hard and the morale is enthusiastic. The sheriff's office, MSHA, the mine company and other people off site continue to work together," said Stickler.

Company officials had equipment set up to show the press the video of the area surrounding the 8 5/8th inch hole. Rob Moore, UtahAmerican Energy, Inc. narrated what was being shown. He pointed out the belt hangers and a water line. He showed the roof which is still intact. A tool bag was noticed which probably contained splicing tools. The video will be made available to the television channels for broadcast.

The active mine activity was taking place at crosscut 139 on entry number one. "The focus remains on the rescue effort and the well being of the rescue workers. They are doing an outstanding job and will remain on the effort until this rescue is complete," said Moore.

Company owner, Bob Murray thanked all those who have been on the site the last eight days to report on what's been happening. "I am disappointed not to be telling you we have found six alive miners. If the seismic event that occurred did not kill them outright, then we have many reasons to be hopeful. The roof is supported. There is nowhere the roof caved in.There is open space. There is much potable water underground. We are working on the same plan we started with last Monday. These are the worst mining conditions I have ever seen; progress is way too slow, but we can't risk the life of the rescue workers. We drilled the first 2.5 inch hole where we thought the miners would be. We drilled the 8 5/8th inch hole and still no sign of life. We have now calculated where the employees might have gone next. We are also doing engineering work on a fourth drilling location. The underground efforts have been on the same plan. The drilling is trial and error."

A candle was lit beside each one of the six miners pictures.

Murray said a helicopter is taking a photographer to the drill site to get pictures of the drilling. "We are distraught, but dedicated professionals have been working around the clock. It is heartbreaking. We have spared nothing with equipment and whatever is takes to find these miners alive," said Murray.

Murray said the families are holding up better than you could imagine in view of the grief they are suffering. Briefings are being held twice a day and originally started out with four meetings a day. "They are holding up and their strength is amazing," said Murray.

Stickler fielded questions from the press which included questions about outbursts which Stickler addressed, he said ribs (mine walls) blowing out is quite common. He said they haven't encountered such minining conditions before.

When questioned why the drilling of the third hole was so slow he said a road had to be constructed to the area and they had to wait for daylight to take the heavy drilling equipment on this road. They are drilling through many feet of solid rock which takes time. Slopes range anywhere from 90 degrees to 25 degrees. The third hole is located 1,300 feet from the second hole.

Murray was asked if any of the rescue workers had walked off the job. Murray explained that 12 workers have asked to be taken off the rescue work at the face for various reasons. They have been reassigned other jobs in the mine.

Murray said seismic activity continues to happen in the mine and a pillar has shifted sideways three feet. The safety precautions being taken with rock props, timbers and chain link fencing securing the sides of the mine are aiding in the safety of the rescue miners. The mining company has received opinions from rock mechanics and experts from the industry who agree that the system developed and implemented since last Monday is the right system to use.

Stickler said a transition is expected from a totally filled entry to the area where there is only two feet of rubble. Ventilation is expected to get worse.

Reporters asked Murray to speculate on the amount of time the underground effort would take to reach the miners. He instructed them to do their own math, but they are moving at a faster rate now than before. Seven days into the underground rubble moving they have advanced 645 feet. They have moved from crosscut 120-125. There is 130 feet between crosscuts. The miners are estimated to be in anywhere between 1,700 to 2,000 feet.

The next press conference is Aug. 14 at 11 a.m.


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