Friday, August 17, 2007

A bad situation gets worse

Via WaPo - 3 Mine Rescuers Die, 6 Others Hurt
A 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 major 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.
It is such a tragic situation when those who are trying to help rescue others get injured or killed during their efforts.

This whole ordeal seems to underscore the danger that is still very much associated with coal mining. I am reminded of a commercial that ran a year or so ago advertising coal. The commercial featured young, hard-bodied men and women, scantily dressed, and working in a coal mine. The tag line was something like, "Coal (or coal mining, I forget) never looked so good" and the point was to promote clean-burning coal. My husband and I both found it greatly ironic that the song they chose to use in the commercial was "Sixteen Tons".

Now while it may be true that coal burns cleaner now than it once did, mine safety rules have increased and I assume miners no longer have to live in mining camps and "sell their souls to the company store", it seems hard to imagine that coal mining could even come close to the glamor that commercial implied. These recent mine collapses would seem to bolster my position on the subject.

And of course I'm aware that the commercial was never intended to be an accurate representation of coal mining, nor is it likely that it was intended as a miner recruiting tool. It was simply a way to make the consumer feel less guilty about over-consuming fossil fuels. I wonder if recent events will have any affect on the consumer mind-set.

1 comment:

O_T said...

I guess what bothers me most about these continued mine tragedies is the fact that tragedies just like this continue. It's hard for me to grasp the fact that with all of todays technology that miners are still faced with preventable danger. There has to be technology available that would allow for an automated process that would leave these valued employees less vulnerable to accidents. I'm completely ignorant when it comes to mining, but there's talk that if they found signs of life, a larger hole would be drilled and a capsule lowered in to rescue them. Seems to me that this should be the first step, and not the last. The trapped miners are obviously behind the cave-in, so it would stand to reason to lower the capsule behind the cave-in and begin the search there, instead of drilling 4 inch holes so they can practice using their camera's.