Utah Mine Disaster
Dr. Michael L. Ford
It has now been over a month since the August sixth mine cave in that trapped six Utah miners. I have purposely withheld comment in consideration for grieving relatives of miners and so I could address some ticklish issues when cooler might lend an ear.
First of all, I was watching the news on that fateful day when there was a report of a 3.9 earthquake. I remember that they did not place the epicenter of this quake at the Utah mine in the initial report, but later amended their findings to say the quake was actually the Crandall Canyon Mine collapsing. Now, if their first report was wrong this means the system of earthquake reporting is defective. But, if it was correct and later changed the question is; were political forces at work and to what end?
Coal mining takes place in an arc-shaped area in eastern Utah. Like other places in the United States coal mining requires men tunneling into the bowels of the earth to extract this important energy source. It has always been dangerous work sparking songs like “Sixteen Tons,” “Big John,” and “Coal Miner’s Daughter.” In recent years the work of environmentalists has made coal more expensive, and in spite of safety pressures, I believe less safe than it could be. Some environmental work is good. I remember having trouble breathing as a teenager when I went to the southern steel capital of Birmingham and I have been in foreign countries when the snow came down dark because of the coal dust released into the atmosphere from homes it was heating.
Miners leave columns of coal to support mine roofs as they mine coal and as a mine ages and they pull out they harvest these columns as they retreat. There were some reports this was going on in the mine where the disaster occurred. My question is why environmentalists holler we should stop coal mining because it is so dangerous and lobby against safer open pit mining? This kind of mining employs backfilling when the mine is played out which can be good for wildlife. Then of course there is robot mining such as being used in Australia. Some things are sure. America needs coal more than ever and saner heads dealing with environmental issues. I doubt we will get the latter so mining will remain dangerous.
P. O. Box 752
Buchanan, Georgia 30113