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 Post subject: Final Borehole Being Drilled into Utah Mine
PostPosted: Thu Aug 23, 2007 10:29 pm 
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Joined: Fri Jul 15, 2005 1:59 am
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Friday, August 23, 2007, 10:30 PM EDT
Report combined from various sources.


Huntington, Utah — Relatives of six trapped miners are holding out hope that the sixth borehole will provide the miracle for which they’ve prayed since August Sixth. Previous holes drilled into the Crandall Canyon Mine have failed to find signs of life. The sixth—and final—borehole is to be drilled Thursday into an area where the miners were last believed to have been working. “This is the last hole,” mine co-owner Bob Murray stated at a news conference Wednesday night. Drilling it, he said, will “bring closure to me that I could never get them out alive.”

Official said that when they completed the 1,500-foot-deep fifth borehole on Wednesday, the rescuer workers found only a six-inch void in the mine. No noise was heard from the hole after a microphone was lowered and workers banged on the drill steel, said Jack Kuzar, a district manager for the Mine Safety and Health Administration. However, Kuzar acknowledged that a video camera had not yet been put down the hole, nor had oxygen readings been taken.

Attempts to tunnel through the broken mine shaft toward the miners were halted after a second cave-in killed two miners and a federal safety officer, and injured six others. Given the conditions, federal officials and the mine owners declared that further direct rescue attempts were too dangerous, and that the sixth borehole would be the last one scheduled, given the unstable nature of the mountain. But Jackie Taylor, whose daughter Lacee dates one of the six men missing in the initial August Sixth cave-in, said relatives and friends are insisting that more be done. She issued a plea on Thursday for the rescue effort to continue, even though three men died trying to tunnel toward the miners. “We are so appreciative to all of the rescue members and their families. Don’t get us wrong, we are so appreciative,” Taylor told NBC’s “Today” show. “Our love and our prayers go out to all of their family members. But our family members are still under there. They’re underground. We need that closure in our lives also.”

Sonny J. Olsen, a lawyer and spokesman for relatives of the trapped miners, said the families don’t want the search to end until the men are found. “Regardless if it takes three months to wait for the seismic activity to stop, they want some method to go down and get their families,” he said.

Taylor, who said she got into a shouting match with Murray during a meeting held Monday night between him and the miners’ families, said the mine owner is reneging on his promise to return the men to their families dead or alive. Families are also angry with Murray over the suspended tunneling and the decision against digging a hole big enough for a rescue capsule to be lowered. Other critics and mine experts have questioned whether mining should have been conducted at Crandall Canyon at all because of the potential for collapses.

“I didn’t desert anybody,” Murray said in an interview later. “I've been living on this mountain every day, living in a little trailer.” He also noted that it is up to federal officials to decide when the mine can be sealed after it completes its investigation. He said he would not resume mining at the Crandall Canyon Mine. “I can tell you right now, we are not going back into that mountain,” he said. He added that most workers at Crandall Canyon have been given jobs at two other mines in central Utah's coal belt, although a small crew remains at Crandall Canyon.

If investigators can't get to the point of the collapse’s origin, Kuzar said, “we will never really know what happened.” The collapse that trapped the miners is believed to have been caused by settling layers of earth bearing down on the walls of the coal mine. Such forces can cause pillars to fail, turning chunks of coal into missiles. This unpredictable and dangerous phenomenon is known by miners as a “bump”. “Had I known that this evil mountain, this alive mountain, would do what it did, I would never have sent the miners in here,” Murray said earlier. “I'll never go near that mountain again.” Murray has insisted the collapse was caused by a natural earthquake, but government seismologists say the collapse itself is what caused the ground to shake, registering a magnitude of 3.9 on the Richter Scale. Since then, there have been several other “bumps”.


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