Sunday Aug. 26 Press Conference
Jack Kuzar is the district manager for MSHA. He read a statement from Richard Stickler, assistant secretary of labor. "The first six bore holes didn't provide us with conclusive evidence. An additional drill hole will be drilled." Hole number six was filled with rubble, there was no void; the listening device was tried and also pounding on the drilling steels to no avail. Kuzar said MSHA has been working since the beginning of the accident on Aug. 6 on robotics. "It is a long shot, but we owe it to the families to do everything possible to locate their loved ones. We have evaluated the holes already in place to see which one would be most suitable."
Kuzar introduced Dr. Robin Murphy from a university in Florida. She explained how the robot would work. It will be lowered down bore hole three for 2,000 feet where it will land and raise up its camera. The base weighs 70 pounds which will help keep the camera stable and from tipping over.
The camera will project real time photographs back to Dr. Murphy. She said the Crandall Canyon situation is the most challenging she has ever seen and she predicted a less than 50 percent chance of being successful and finding valuable information.
The zoom camera has a light which can illuminate 50 feet of viewing distance. It will be lowered into the 8 7/8th inch hole which will be a tight fit. The base can pull 1,000 feet of tether with it. Murphy expressed concern the camera may be damaged on the way down the uncased hole, but that hole when cased isn't big enough for the robot to fit down. It is also possible rocks along the way might damage the camera, or the debris in the tunnel as the robot enters the mine. Another concern is the mesh along the roof which may tangle the camera. The camera can turn in all directions and make turns within the mine. Once the robot goes down they may not be able to get it back out depending on conditions.
Murphy said robots of this type have been on the design board for 10 years for use in emergency situations like the one ongoing at Crandall Canyon. This design was of the type used at the World Trade Center after Sept. 11.
Cost of this robot is $100,000. The use of the robot is donated by Inuktun and services will only be charged if the equipment is destroyed.
Murphy said the exploring will be a very laborious process and they will look very carefully for any sign of the miners.
Kuzar explained it is a long shot. MSHA has been working with this company since 2002 on robotics to aid in search and rescue efforts within mines and other sites.
Robert Murray, Murray Energy president addressed the press conference. "We have committed to drill a seventh hole in the location of the dinner hole. This decision was made after consultation with the families and with MSHA. As I have said the last three weeks, all decisions have been made with MSHAs approval."
Murray reported UtahAmerican Energy is suspending mining at the Tower mine near Price. This is a temporary action while the mine is inspected by the 10 engineering firms which have been hired by Murray for this purpose. His concerns lie in the fact that Tower is a deep mine similar to the one in Crandall Canyon. "We take our responsibility to safety seriously," said Murray. "No pound of coal is worth getting hurt over. We are taking additional engineering studies. These 10 different engineering companies will evaluate the mining plans of Tower and West Ridge.
Murray said Joy Manufacturing has been working on an underground automated system for them. A memory cut which uses fiber optics and a camera system remotely. Two weeks ago Murray told Joy to accelerate this effort.
Murray said he met with Tower and West Ridge miners to let them know they are laying off 170 people temporarily until the 10 firms have reviewed the plan and the new equipment is installed. "Every man has been offered a job at the Illinois and Ohio mines. If they go to Ohio or Illinois, they will not miss a days pay and will be paid to ride a bus back east. They will work three weeks and be off one week. They will also be offered free board and room."
Murray said the West Ridge mine has lower cover and seismic activity hasn't been an issue with West Ridge.
Murray praised the dedication of the employees who have been involved in the rescue effort. David Canning and Mike Glassom have been onsite at the drilling rigs for three solid weeks. "The dedication of these people is something that has been missed in the reporting. These men are loyal to the rescue and they are loyal to me," said Murray.