Letter to the Editor: Letter to the governor on the Crandall Canyon Mine Disaster
I am writing this letter to Governor Huntsman to let him know my thoughts on what he has recently stated, how the media is reporting and the intentions of the unions regarding the devastating incident that occurred at the Crandall Canyon Mine.
Unions are stepping in and taking advantage of this situation by making negative and, very often, erroneous statements about non-union mines, their owners and MSHA. The union is against random drug testing and other unsafe practices and are determined to create a miner who is selfish, lazy and greatly overpaid. The results of this will be a great cost to the people in this country who pay for the coal that comes from these mines.
The media has gone out of their way to place the entire blame of this incident on Mr. Murray. The interviews with prior employees of Mr. Murray's have contributed to this fact. The media did not attempt to verify these statements.
It has also been reported that there were many safety violations in the mines. What has not been reported is the severity of the violations. The violations included non-life threatening violations such as no bathroom tissue in one of the rest rooms and no cover on light bulbs in one of the warehouses.
The media reports contributions made by Mr. Murray to certain politicians and political groups, but fails to report political contributions made by unions and to whom they were made. This is biased reporting and all for a certain political goal.
Mr. Murray provides maximum safety and safety training Any safety equipment I ever needed or wanted was immediately provided. I did not have to jump through hoops or beg on bended knee for this equipment. Thus, I always felt that my safety and the safety of my co-workers was the number one priority of Mr. Murray. I have had more training in the past year while employed by Mr. Murray than I ever had in the entire 15 years I was employed for a union mine.
Mr. Murray has established a fire brigade in the event of fire in any of his mines. He has provided all training and equipment for the fire brigade. No union represented mines have this.
Mr. Murray's safety policies are much stricter than MSHA's. He demands that his employees follow MSHA's policies and any policies that he has mandated. He goes to any expense necessary to ensure these policies are followed, by providing any equipment, training, adequate time for training and the qualified and knowledgeable instructors necessary.
During the rescue effort at Crandall Canyon Mine, Mr. Murray has seen that all the necessary equipment is available and has even flown in equipment needed if it was not already on hand. He has provided the necessary food and lodging for the employees assisting in the rescue and has taken suggestions for the needs of these people. Mr. Murray has spared no expense, has continuously been at the site and has gone into the mine to assist in rescuing the injured and bringing out the bodies of the rescuers who died.
Crandall Canyon Mine mining plans were in effect for years and were approved by MSHA for the previous owners and recommended by one of the foremost engineering consulting firms. An inspection was made one week prior to the occurrence.
When the incident occurred, Mr. Murray immediately started the investigation of the incident by requesting MSHA and Murray Energy/UtahAmerican assistance.
Mr. Murray gave me the opportunity to work for his company when no other mining company would do so. All Mr. Murray expects of any of his employees is to do their job correctly and to follow the policies provided to ensure a safe workplace.
Huntsman has announced the newly formed Utah Mine Safety Commission and I sincerely hope that the majority of the members of this commission are knowledgeable and experienced in the workings of the mines, not only the safety aspect but the effects any decisions made will have on the hundreds of miners, their families and their communities. This is a vital and important industry in Utah and the surrounding states and needs to be treated as such.
The governor has stated he wants an investigation of all the mines owned by Mr. Murray. What about an investigation of all the mines, including the union represented mines. What's fair is fair and, I believe he will be surprised at the results, if the inspections are honestly done. Every miner knows the hazards involved in mining and agrees to go into the mine for employment. We expect to be treated with the courtesy and respect deserved for providing a valuable service to the public.
The governor states the hearings will be held in Price and Huntington and Washington D.C. I hope these hearings are held locally first, and the miners and their families are able to be involved and are able to state their thoughts and ideas. Then it can go on to Washington DC. with the outcome.
The miners do need to know that they are being overseen all the time and not just when it is politically convenient. We are not an illiterate group of people but are hardworking, taxpaying citizens and need to be treated with that respect.
Mr. Murray needs to be given the same respect. He has provided jobs and financial security for his employees, their families and communities. He cares deeply for these employees and when something like the Crandall Canyon incident occurs, he needs to know that his government will support him in his efforts to deal with the incident and bring a positive conclusion.
Please take into consideration all that I have said and know that I am not the only person who feels this way, governor. Please remember we are residents of your state all the time. We are the voters who support honest and upright representatives of our government.