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Front Page » August 28, 2007 » Opinion » Guest Editorial: UtahAmerican Energy employees attempt to...
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Guest Editorial: UtahAmerican Energy employees attempt to set the record straight


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By P. BRUCE HILL
LAINE W. ADAIR
UtahAmerican Energy

P. Bruce Hill, president and chief executive officer and Laine W. Adair, general manager, each of whom have 33 years of coal mine engineering and management experience, held a press conference to "set the record straight," regarding the recent tragic events at the Crandall Canyon Mine of UtahAmerican Energy, Inc. and activities of Robert E. Murray, chairman, president and chief executive officer of Murray Energy Corporation of this regard.

"There is an outrage among many Utahns relative to the recent statements about Governor Jon Huntsman Jr. and the reporting of the Salt Lake City Tribune newspaper relative to this tragedy and Mr. Murray," they advised. "While our efforts are still focused on the rescue of the six trapped miners, in order to settle down the disgust with the Governor and the Tribune's reporting, we want to advise the following," they said.

1. "Robert E. Murray arrived at the Crandall Canyon Mine in a few hours of the two seismic events on Aug. 6 and has never left for the ensuing three weeks. He has been living in a cramped trailer and eating whatever he can obtain, to direct the rescue efforts for the six trapped miners and to administer to their families."

"For the initial days, without any assistance from anyone, Mr. Murray personally administered the needs of the families of the six trapped miners, meeting with them every three hours. It is true that because without sleep and as a result of three deaths and six other injuries in the rescue, Mr. Murray raised his voice in two meetings because he knew that the families were being mislead in what others were advising them, but he had literally dozens of meetings with the families that were considerate and compassionate in manner over the past three weeks."

"To allow Mr. Adair and I to focus on the rescue efforts, Mr. Murray totally handled the newspaper, electronic media, the politicians that arrived, and directed the rescue efforts in conjunction with the Federal Mine Safety and Health Administration. He also, for the first 10 days or so, did more than anyone else to tend to the needs and comfort of the miner's families."

2. "When the seismic activity of Aug. 16 trapped seven of his employees and two MSHA inspectors, Mr. Murray, who was living at the mine, immediately took a cap-light from another miner outside and went underground and personally helped dig out the dead and injured miners with his own hands," said Hill and Adair. "He never hesitated a minute, he was there during the rescue of all nine of those people trapped. He prepared a list of their names and injuries and gave them to MSHA outside of the mine. He was also one of the last to leave the site of the rescue."

"He prayed for his miners that evening and administered to their needs. Because of the excellent efforts of the employees of UtahAmerican, the lives of six injured miners were saved," said Adair.

"The efforts both underground and on the surface were carried out with exemplary fashion," said Hill.

"The tragedy is that three men died and six were injured," they said.

3. "It was Mr. Murray that administered to the families of his two deceased employees and the five injured miners and their families. No one from MSHA or anywhere else was involved in that effort except Mr. Murray and the UtahAmerican employees."

4. "This, plus the trauma of participating in the actual recovery, slowed Mr. Murray's ability to deal with the families of the trapped miners for a few days.

5. "We have never seen the chief executive officer of any company, let alone any coal company be out in front with the media and public and allow us to perform rescue efforts, which he was also directing. As Mr. Murray has literally gone without sleep for the past three weeks and has never left his mine except to meet with his employees or administer to the families of the miners involved with the rescue, whom are truly heroes, or the miners themselves."

6. "Mr. Murray directed more than 34 pieces of massive mining equipment and 134 rescue miners, 80 from West Ridge Mine, in the rescue efforts, he has drilled six bore holes, nearly 2,000 feet, in an attempt to find the trapped miners, now drilling the seventh. This is all at an expense of tens of millions of dollars, which no one in our companies has ever mentioned, as finding the trapped miners has been our only focus. Mr. Murray has worked as a team, in the words of Assistant Secretary of Labor, Richard A. Stickler, he has cooperated with MSHA and MSHA has cooperated with him in the entire rescue effort."

7. "Mr. Murray has shown every expression of compassion and hurt not only for the families of the six trapped miners, but the families of his two deceased employees and the five injured ones."

8. "Our biggest problem right now," said Hill, "is to keep the thousands of persons from these communities from just standing on the governor's office in Salt Lake City. Mr. Murray has advised all of his employees to be calm and not be upset with the accusations of Governor Jon Huntsman Jr. relative to Mr. Murray, Murray Energy and UtahAmerican, as well as the reporting of the Salt Lake Tribune," said Hill.

9. "The full attention and focus of this horrific event behooves any political demagoguery," said Hill. "Mr. Murray and all personnel of UtahAmerican and Murray Energy have totally centered their efforts on the rescue over the past three weeks," he said. "Governor Huntsman has displayed an unbelievable lack of understanding of what has been transpiring over the past three weeks. It is unfortunate that the Governor of Utah has engaged in language and statements in an attempt to damage the respect for Mr. Murray, Murray Energy, UtahAmerican, and most especially all mining families in the state, and those in our communities that support its miners.

We can tell you, with many years of mining experience, we have never seen a leader in such a tragic emergency any better than Mr. Murray and what he has done. Further, he has undertaken personal efforts to make sure that no tragedies can befall our remaining Tower and West Ridge mines," said Hill and Adair.

10. "It is unfortunate that we who have actually been conducting the rescue effort believe that we must respond to the statements and accusations of Governor Jon Huntsman Jr. and the Salt Lake Tribune.

However, we are doing this in an attempt to calm the outrage that has erupted against the Governor and that newspaper in our communities," said Adair and Hill.


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August 28, 2007
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