Still no word from Crandall Canyon miners

AS A third borehole is drilled more than 1400 feet into the Utah mountain over the Crandall Canyon mine, crews are continuing what officials say is still a rescue effort to bring the six trapped underground to the surface.

Donna Schmidt

Robert Murray of Murray Energy, which is part owner of the mine with Intermountain Power, said that while progress is not going as he’d expected, hope was still strong the group will be located alive.

“I'm very disappointed to be telling you on the eighth day that we have not found six alive miners," he said during his only conference held Monday (as of press time).

“There are many reasons why one would believe that they still may be alive,” he added, noting the roof in the area is still intact, that plenty of room for air is available and there is plenty of drinkable water.

Murray also made available video footage taken from the camera dropped down the second borehore, which showed tools and the mine’s beltline in a space about 5.5ft in height. The roof and mesh, he noted, were relatively intact and the majority of debris seen in the footage appeared to be from the ribs.

The third vertical hole into the earth towards the underground space commenced Monday morning, but neither the operator’s officials nor the US Mine Safety and Health Administration have provided a specific estimate as to when the drill could reach its target – Murray Energy has only said that it could take up to six days.

Efforts by underground rescue crews also continued Monday, with progress measuring about 580ft as of the afternoon, MSHA’s Richard Stickler told media representatives.

The cause of the collapse is still not clear; Murray and other officials for the company maintain that an earthquake preceded the incident last Monday morning, but other seismologist sources continue to disagree.

Meanwhile, the ages of all of the missing miners at Crandall Canyon, part of Utah American’s Genwal complex, were also recently released. They comprise: Louis Alonso Hernandez, 23; Manuel Sanchez, 41; Kerry Allred, 57; Carlos Payan, 20s; Brandon Phillips, 24; and Don Erickson, 50.

MSHA makes mine’s ERP available

Over the weekend, MSHA provided for public viewing a copy of Crandall Canyon’s Emergency Response Plans, updated and approved in June of this year in accordance with federal regulations. All portions, with the exception of the 60-day implementation period outlined for breathable air by the MINER Act, were effective immediately at the operation.

Self-contained self-rescuers, post-accident breathable air, lifelines, post-accident communications and tracking, and training were all included in the eight-page document.

Caches of rescuers, officials for the operation have outlined, will be stocked completely with CSE SR-100 units and will be placed at four specific locations in the mine, and directional lifelines are installed in both the primary and secondary escapeways of the mine.

It also provided under “additional provisions” the stock sheet for an emergency materials trailer, which will have inflatable stoppings, brattice boards, polyurethane foam packs, brattice spad gun and spads, washers, hammers, nails and enough MRE (meals ready to eat) for every miner in the active section to utilise for up to 96 hours. Ten gallons of water, light sticks, roof jacks, a multi-gas detector and a first aid kit were also outlined requirements for the unit.

To view the entire ERP, visit http://www.msha.gov/Genwal/GenwalERP.pdf.

Keep checking International Longwall News for further updates on this story.

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