August 13, 2007 The Pump Handle 3Comment

Ellen Smith, Managing Editor of Mine Safety and Health News reported at 5:30 pm (EST, 8/12) on the status of the operation to rescue the six trapped miners at the Crandall Canyon mine in Emery County, Utah.  She wrote that MSHA Assistant Secretary Richard Sticker, said they are dealing with

“the most difficult ground conditions — ever”

and conditions are getting much more difficult.

Ellen Smith’s report continues:

There continue to be severe bumps and outbursts along the ribs. They have explored four entries in the active working section, but because of the adverse conditions, they have not been able to advance past a blockage at crosscut 125.  Stickler said they are now drilling a third hole at crosscut 147, which is 1,300 feet from where they drilled the 8⅝-inch hole at cross cut 137. This borehole will also be 8⅝ inches.

The two escapeways and the beltline are blocked, so they will now drill where they think the men could go.  As far as the hole for the rescue capsule, Stickler said they looked at that option, which requires a 30-inch hole.

“At best it would take 19-20 days just to get the drill rig on the mountain,” Stickler said, due to the vertical walls of the canyon with the least amount of slope being 25-degrees. They would have to drill 1,886 feet, compared to 240 feet (which took 77 hours) when the capsule was used at Quecreek, so right now this is not really an option.  [Richard Stickler was one of the lead-State official in Pennsylvania during the Quecreek rescue in July 2002 when 9 men were trapped in a coal mine when it became inundated with water from an adjacent abandoned mine.]

Stickler said he would make no time commitments on any part of the rescue operation.  

Ellen Smith established Mine Safety and Health News in 1991.

Update 8/14: Ellen Smith added the following later to her report:

“Regarding the oxygen levels at the Crandall Mine: It was first thought that the first 2-inch hole had drifted while drilling and broke through into a sealed area. This would have been consistent with the oxygen level readings they were getting between 7.2% and 7.8% and 180 ppm CO. They have now confirmed that the hole was in fact a working/active area, which is why they are now pumping air down into it.”

3 thoughts on “Trapped Miners in “Most Difficult Ground Conditions Ever”

  1. N=1

    It’s being covered, just not this well. The stories that are appearing are much more optimistic on the surface. You kind of have to read between the lines to see that they really aren’t expecting good news.

  2. Although the news to-date has been discouraging, I don’t think the mine rescue team members and those running the rescue will give up hope until they actually find the six men (whether alive or deceased.) We don’t really know if all six men were together when the rockburst occurred, or if they were separated because they were performing different tasks. Isn’t it possible that a few of the men perished immediately because of the force of the rockburst, but that others were seriously injured, or perhaps left unconscious? I believe that despite the discouraging news so far, the rescue team will continue to exhaust all means to find these men.

    The families are suffering terribly as they wait for news. I also ache for the individuals running the rescue (Mr. Stickler and his team from MSHA, and the company) who must be exhausted from their efforts.

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