Cecil Roberts, the president of the nation’s largest industry union, responded in anger Monday afternoon and urged the US Mine Safety and Health Administration to flex its regulatory arm with the mine’s owners, Murray Energy and Intermountain Power, regarding any future submitted plans involving the mine.
“In an industry long known for having quite a few greedy and uncaring mine operators, this statement is perhaps the most callous I have ever heard,” Roberts said in a statement.
“With this statement [by mine officials], Murray Energy not only demonstrates complete disregard for the families of those still missing in the mine and those in the community, but the company also demonstrates that it has learned nothing from this disaster.”
He added that the mine has already been fully developed according to its sources.
“To do any further mining in an already unstable mine like Crandall Canyon is madness,” Roberts said.
He noted that, although the mine is not unionised through the UMWA or any other labour organisation, he hopes that MSHA will reject any plans submitted for mining new sections.
“Let’s focus on ways that may still exist to find the lost miners who are still in the mine,” he said.
Late last week, he reacted on behalf of the union after three rescue workers, including one MSHA employee, died during underground efforts to save the six miners trapped there since August 6.
“We salute the bravery of the mine rescue teams, who despite knowing the extreme danger of their mission still risked their lives by entering the mine,” he said of the entire group, including those who were injured in what is believed to be additional seismic activity that caused a collapse late last Thursday evening Utah time.
“They put their own lives at risk in their determination to rescue their fellow miners.
“This is what they do and this is what they are, and we are grateful for their valour even as we mourn these losses.”
He called the deaths and injuries “needless and preventable”, adding that they compounded an already tragic situation.
“The original mining plan appears to have been flawed, to say the least. In our opinion, that plan should never have been approved,” Roberts said.
He also sided with various seismic experts who have claimed that the initial incident was not related to an earthquake, a statement maintained by mine officials, and said the event was anything but a natural occurrence.
“These miners’ lives were jeopardised because of the acts of men,” Roberts said.
“It is the responsibility of the mine operator and federal authorities to ensure the safety of both those who mine the coal and those who attempt to rescue them.
“We must question whether they fulfilled their responsibilities at Crandall Canyon Mine.”