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Friday, August 17, 2007

The Utah Mine Cave-In - Even More of A Tragedy Than We Knew.

I haven't posted about the mine cave-in in Utah, mainly because I didn't feel there was much to add to the endless coverage by the traditional media. But today, there's even worse news - the mine is in such bad shape, it's actually killing the rescuers.

HUNTINGTON, Utah - A disastrous cave-in Thursday night killed three rescue workers and injured at least six others who were trying to tunnel through rubble to reach six trapped miners, authorities said. Mining officials were considering whether to suspend the rescue effort.

It was a shocking setback on the 11th day of the effort to find miners who have been confined at least 1,500 feet below ground at the Crandall Canyon mine. It is unknown if the six are alive or dead.

“All rescue workers have been evacuated from the mine,” said Dirk Fillpot, a spokesman for the federal Mine Safety and Health Administration.

Officials said the cave-in was caused by a mountain bump, which commonly refers to pressure inside the mine that shoots coal from the walls with great force. Seismologists say such an event caused the Aug. 6 cave-in that trapped six men inside the central Utah mine. Thursday’s bump occurred about 6:30 p.m. ET.

Ah, yes. It was just an unforeseeable accident of Mother Nature. No one to blame here, right? Well, no, not so fast.

According to the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) website, mountain bumps are a known risk in mining and can be often be avoided, or at least remediated, by following proper safety procedures. On page 3 of this report on a mountain bump accident in Utah in 1987, the Department of Labor lists the cause as "failure to follow the approved mining cycle sequence causing excessive pressure on the pillar being mined."

In addition, The New York Times finally reported on Thursday that the way the mines were dug - a very deep method called "retreat mining" - actually increased the likelihood of mountain bumps.

It's horribly depressing. The man in charge of mine safety - and of "investigating" the incident - is another "heckuva job" guy named Richard Stickler. He is so corrupt and incompetent that the Republican Congress twice refused to approve his appointment. Now THAT is a telling statistic. (Bush ended up sneaking Stickler in during a Congressional recess, as he did with his neocon buddy, John Bolton.)

One thing I am so looking forward after the 2008 elections is a fresh group of competent people being put in to all areas of the government. You know, people who are actually interested in doing their jobs? Not profiting from the industries they're supposed to be regulating, or using the Justice Department to steal elections?

Considering the wave of resignations that has been coming through the Bush Administration lately, though, including those of KKKarl and Tony Snow, the corruption may be swept away more easily than we think. Apparently at least two more are in the works. I'm guessing an anonymous Rove staffer and Alberto Gonzales, myself. But wouldn't it be wonderful if it were Dick Cheney? (Oh please oh please oh please....)

1 comment:

Ripley said...

Well, as long as the people who have money can make more money...