Saturday, September 01, 2007

Murray's self-inflicted wounds

(© 2007 Trent Nelson/The Salt Lake Tribune)

His diatribe against Global Warming, Unions, and all things progressive, as well has his actions, may have hurt his beloved coal industry more than the fact that his mining practices killed 9 people.
According to the industry newsletter "Coal & Energy Price Report," the mine was near the end of its life, producing 604,000 tons in 2006, down from 1.6 million tons in 2005. Production dropped by more than half in the last 12 months.
Unwilling to just shut it down, Murray's company embarked on a new plan to extract every last bit from the mine. According to an expert quoted by a Salt Lake newspaper, the Crandall mine before the recent disaster was pulling out coal that should have been left standing to support the roof.
The operators used a tactic known as "retreat mining," where miners pull the remaining pillars of coal and collapse the mine behind them. The federal Mine Safety and Health Administration may have allowed the mine to remove too much.
Then again, the Bush Administration officials weren't exactly doing a great job either. While the above article was basically an op-ed and the expert could be construed by the Murray-types as a highsight union boss...but not if those facts were the same as the ones by actual federal inspectors.
"I have been concerned about pulling pillars in this environment," Falk, a mine inspector for the Bureau of Land Management, wrote in February 2007, referring to the retreat mining going on in the mine - where huge blocks of coal left to support the roof are cut away, leaving the roof to fall in.
He was back days later. A major seismic bounce on March 10 had rocked the mine, blasting coal from the pillars, damaging tunnels and supports, and making it impossible for mining to continue, Falk wrote in an inspection report obtained by The Salt Lake Tribune.
It was a smaller version, and perhaps a harbinger, of the event that tore apart the mine Aug. 6, trapping a half-dozen miners inside, and it was never officially reported to the Mine Safety and Health Administration, as apparently required by federal rules.

But don't worry, people of Carbon County and Emery County.
Murray on Sunday described the layoffs - impacting all three of Murray's Utah mines - as temporary. Miners told The Salt Lake Tribune Saturday that 270 employees were to be laid off.
Miners who were at Murray's meetings with employees over the weekend said he lashed out at Gov. Jon Huntsman Jr. and The Tribune, pinning part of the blame for the layoffs on them.
Many residents of Carbon and Emery counties interviewed Sunday applauded Huntsman's intervention and blasted Murray.
"The governor was completely right," said Rae Lyn Peak.
Anita Brady, whose husband works at the Deer Creek mine, said those in the community "know how [Murray] runs his business . . . and it's not good. It's not the mines. It's the way they were mining them."
Danny Erickson of Wellington, a cousin of Don Erickson and one of the miners laid off Sunday, commended the governor rather than Murray for making sure the Tower mine is safe. The layoff, he said, "is just pushing more quickly to get out of mining."
Wellington said his 9-year-old daughter had already begged him to stop mining.
"I enjoy it, but it's not safe," he said.

Couldn't have said it better myself.

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