August 22, 2007 The Pump Handle 9Comment

This time, it’s not an Act of God, but instead it just that Big, Bad Mountain.  Owner/operator of the Crandall Canyon mine, Mr. Bob Murray said today:

“Had I known that this evil mountain, this alive mountain, would do what it did, I would never have sent the miners in here.  I’ll never go near that mountain again.”

We couldn’t make this stuff up if we tried.  No wonder reporters were wondering where Mr. Murray has been over the last few days.   (I had two calls on Monday wondering if I knew where to find him. ) 

They were craving a few more choice quotes from the guy.  He didn’t disappoint.

According to the AP‘s Michael Rubinkam, Mr. Bob Murray lashed out at critics who accuse him of abandoning the six trapped miners.

“I didn’t desert anybody.  I’ve been living on this mountain every day, living in a little trailer.”

Sorry Mr. Murray, I’m saving my sympathy for the family members who took up temporary residence first in a senior center, then a school and now a church to wait and wait for news of their loved ones.  I can’t imagine the agony and the exhaustion.   

The AP story goes on:

During his middle-of-the-night AP interview, Murray described the scene of the second collapse.  He said he rushed into the mine in his street clothes and began digging out the men, buried under five feet of coal, with his bare hands. “I never hesitated to go in there. I was the first man in and the last man out,” he said.

He said he later dropped out of a debriefing with federal officials and began wandering around the mine yard in the moonlight, reliving the collapse. He said he broke down.  “I came apart,” he said. “I was under a doctor’s care for a couple days.”

Murray spoke bitterly of the United Mine Workers of America, which has called his company callous for planning to resume mining at other parts of 5,000-acre mine.  “They’re twisting it all around to discredit me and my company,” he said. He accused the union of using the disaster at the nonunion mine as a recruiting opportunity.

He re-emerged Monday to announce that the trapped miners would likely remain entombed in the Crandall Canyon mine.  Murray said there was no indication before the initial collapse that the mine was anything but stable.  “I have weekly reports from the mine, and they were telling me that the mining in this mine was going better in the last couple months than it ever had,” he said. “Safety first, then production. That’s all we focus on, safety.”

“That’s all we focus on, safety.” 

Oh really?? Three men are dead at your mine, and the fate of six other workers is unknown.  Something is terribly wrong with the way you “focus on safety.”

I met a miner last year who told me to be wary of companies who boast about their safety programs. 

“‘Safety talks’ that’s all they are,” he said, “all talk, but no action.”

9 thoughts on “Bob Murray’s “Woe is Me”

  1. And in this morning’s news broadcasts he explains that the survivors are “irrational.” Sensitive guy, huh? Seems to me that those who lose — or fear they have lost — a loved one to a mine or any other workplace setting have a right to a bit of irrationality.
    His refusal to recognize his own culpability and responsibility may well be natural, and common — but I’ve still lost my patience with his focus on his own story rather than that of the workers and their families.

  2. Wow … at least his partners at Intermountain Power Agency have the sense to keep their mouths shut. It’s almost too bad he’s drawing the lighting away from them, and from Stickler, and Foulke.

  3. Sounds quite similar to a news report in ’07 about 6 trapped miners that they couldn’t get out. I hope they can implement better measures in the future!

  4. Early on , when the first holes were drilled. There was no smell of death, no sound. At that point, they had to know that they were at the wrong location. Why did they keep the game going ? Because they had not a clue where those trapped miners were.
    They were hoping that they would get lucky.
    The opperation kept moving toward the rear of the mine. I would think that the miners would take off toward the entrance of the mine instead of deeper into the tomb to be.

  5. Robert Murray is a psychopathic liar. He contradicts himself and can’t keep his fantasy stories straight.

    Of course, as long as he is funnelling money into Senator Mitchell McConnell’s war chest, the Senator’s wife, Elaine Chao, will continue to let Murray run MSHA.

    I can only hope that Murray is put under oath and the presiding official, whether it be a judge or a member of Congress, contunually has the transcriptionist read back the testimony every time Murray changes his lie. Then nail his ass for perjury.

    The bastard is delusional, and he kills miners.

  6. Nice to know that even when under doctor’s care there’s still time for some union bashing.

    Absolutely! How did he phrase it? “…spreading rumors and preying on miners.” Bob – look in the mirror, dude!

  7. Murray Energy versus charles and Beverly Datkuliak article in the Monroe County Ohio Beacon August 2007

    Court Decision Could Have Far Reaching Affects in Gas Industry

    A decision about this well, shown on left, could have
    far reaching affects in the oil and gas industry. The
    Datkuliak family has been ordered to plug and cap the gas well which has provided heat to the residences and farm buildings for 17 years. Shown are Charles and Beverly Datkuliak, owners of the Sunsbury Township property, and their daughter Elaine and her husband Lawrence Truex and their children, Sarah and Jessie. Photo by Martha Ackerman

    by Martha Ackerman – Staff Writer

    “I’m not disputing the coal mine’s rights or the judge’s decision, but all deed language is different,” said Mike Datkuliak, a Beallsville resident whose family has been ordered to plug and cap a gas well that has been serving family members for the last 17 years.
    “I wouldn’t have a problem with the property across the road (part of the over 100 acre farm), the language is different in that deed.” Mike Datkuliak is speaking of a recent Monroe County Com-mon Pleas Court decision that concerns his family and could have far reaching affects in the oil and gas industry.
    The case has been appealed to the Seventh District Ohio Appellate Court and other entities have become interested in the outcome of that decision. Mike’s parents, Charles and Beverly Datkuliak own the Sunsbury Township property and the well in question is owned by Charles. It has provided free and reliable gas to a residence and other buildings on the Datkuliak property since 1990.
    Datkuliaks’ daughter Elaine and her husband Lawrence Truex and two children, Jessie and Sarah, live on the farm and depend on the gas well for heat. “Jessie is really upset by this situation,” said Mike. Other farm buildings and an ultra light airplane hangar are also heated by the gas well. Also in jeopardy are the water resources on the property on which 130 cattle are pastured.
    The mining operation has already caused subsidence in the hayfield making “some springs dry up” and damaging fencing. In some cases the fences are so tight they have snapped above the posts and in other areas, the fence is very loose and sagging. In 1922, in a Coal Severance Deed, title to the coal estate and rights to the surface estate were separated, but with a very important reservation –
    “Said Grantors reserve unto themselves and their heirs and assigns the right to drill and operate through said vein of coal for oil, gas and other minerals.” The reservation in the deed dated November, 1922, was made when previous owner Johnson Orn sold the No. 8 vein of coal to A.A. Caldwell. In 1923 Caldwell sold the vein of coal to S.H. Robbins. The reservation stayed in the deed language. Charles and Beverly purchased the property in 1973 and in 1987 they entered into an oil and gas lease with The Oxford Oil Company. The gas well was drilled in 1989 and in 1990, the Datkuliaks purchased the gas well from The Oxford Oil Company.
    In December, 2006, American Energy Corp. who acquired ownership of the coal rights in 1995, notified the Datkuliaks that they would be longwall mining under their property and their well would have to be plugged and capped. According to Datkuliak’s attorney, Richard Yoss, on April 24, 2007, without the knowledge or consent of the Datkuliaks, American Energy Corporation completed and filed with the Division of Mineral Resources an expedited application to plug the well, signing under oath that they were the owner or authorized agent of the owner of the well.
    According to Mike Datkuliak, an employee of the Division of Mineral Resources contacted the family and found no authorization had been given. The expedited application was denied by the Division of Mineral Resources. On May 7, the coal company filed a complaint against the Datkuliaks asking the Monroe County Common Pleas Court for an order compelling the well to be plugged. The Datkuliaks filed a declaratory judgment action against the coal company.
    According to Yoss, the cases were consolidated and “fast tracked” due to the fact that the area where the well is located is scheduled to be mined in early November.
    After a two-day trial, Judge Julie Selmon, Monroe County Common Pleas Court, rendered a decision stating that American Energy Corp. has the right to mine the Pittsburgh No. 8 vein of coal without liability for damages to the surface or to the Datkuliaks’ well.
    She so ordered the Datkuliaks to immediately plug and cap the well at their own cost with no compensation due for the loss of the well or the cost of plugging and capping it. According to Mike Datkuliak, who has done extensive research and documentation on his family’s case, the Ohio Revised Code mandates compensation.
    “But the judge gave it all away,” he lamented. The cost of plugging and capping could cost the family $15,000 or more. They are currently attempting to find a contractor to comply with the judge’s order, but hope the Court of Appeals reverses the decision.
    According to a summary provided by Yoss, “the case has far reaching ramifications and would logically require the plugging of any well in the path of any longwall mining, regardless of the commercial value of the well.” According to Yoss, the cost of drilling a well is between $175,000 and $200,000.
    “If this precedent stands up, it’s frightening,” said the attorney. An expedited appeal was filed with the appellate court. The Court of Appeals granted the Datkuliaks’ request and ordered AEC to file an answer brief within 10 days after the complete record on appeal is filed. The court stated that the matter would “be promptly scheduled for oral argument once all briefs have been filed.” The 10 day period ended Aug. 16.
    Mike Datkuliak has enlisted the help of Sen. Joy Padgett and Rep. Jennifer Garrison. Sarah and Jessie Truex wrote letters to the officials. “When I grow up, I would like to live somewhere on my grandparents’ farm,” wrote Sarah. “I am planning on using the gas well if it is still here. I was hoping to use the gas well for free heat and not have to worry about running out of propane or whatever I use for heat.” “The gas well means a lot to me …,” wrote Jessie. “My question is why can’t they just move over about 10 feet?” If the mining path stopped 900-1200 feet less, it would save the well, surmised the family. The tree line where the mining path ends can be seen easily from the family residence. Several entities have taken an interest in this case due to its ramifications.
    Motions for Leave to File Amicus (friend of the court) Briefs have been filed by the Ohio Farm Bureau and the Monroe County Farm Bureau and the Ohio Oil and Gas Association, in support of the Datkuliaks.
    In the motion filed by the Farm Bureaus, it reads: “Initially, the Ohio Farm Bureau and the Monroe County Farm Bureau feel it is important for this Court to understand the importance of this issue to rural Ohioans. There are approximately 63,000 active oil and gas wells in Ohio which in 2006 generated in excess of $125 million of royalties to landowners. Moreover, there are more than 4,100 landowners who actually own the wells on their property used to provide free natural gas to their homes, barns … The revenue and free gas provided by these wells are significant to and relied upon by many rural families, particularly within Monroe and other economically struggling counties in Southeast Ohio. “By contrast, the mining of the one seam of coal owned by Appellees will not produce any royalties or other revenue to the landowners … The importance of potential oil and gas production to the landowners was clearly reflected in the original severance deed … from which the Appellees’ entire interest is derived – the landowner expressly reserved the right to do exactly what the trial court has now eliminated, namely the right to drill oil and gas through the severed seam of coal and to operate those wells … The words “drill” and “operate” are significant. If the intent of the parties was to allow wells to be drilled, but to require those wells to be plugged a week, year or five years after the wells are drilled, there would have been no reason for the parties to expressly reserve the right to “operate” the wells …” “If this ruling stands in its present form,” said Bud Rousen-berg, local oil and gas developer, “it could be detrimental to coal bearing counties like Monroe. This is not just some small decision. People are not aware of the ramifications for present and future oil and gas development in counties like Monroe. We certainly need any industry we can get in Monroe County. It was noted that Monroe County has led the state in oil and gas production for the last several years. “It is clear in the deed that the Datkuliaks have the property ownership and access to the gas well,” said Tom Stewart, executive vice-president of the Ohio Oil and Gas Association. “The coal company, led by Bob Murray, has taken that away from them. Murra] purports that by an Ohio statute initiated by the Coal Development Office that coal has a dominance over oil and gas,” said Stewart. “The only singular reason for the statute was to help the coal industry because Ohio coal is flawed. It is full of pollutants and the government was helping them out. It did not mean that a coal company can seize the man’s property,” continued Stewart. “I admire Mr. Datkuliak for standing up and defending his property rights against the coal company and in particular Bob Murray. My industry and the coal industry have managed to get along pretty well but this is a flagrant abuse of property rights!” Stewart said. Regardless of the outcome,” said Mike Datkuliak, “Dick [Yoss] and Jason [Yoss] have done a heck of a job.” A follow-up on the appellate decision will be published in the Beacon.

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