“I’ve accepted all possibilities.”

Cody Allred, 32-year-old son of missing miner Kerry Allred, looked sad and exhausted as he said, “I’ve accepted all possibilities.” You have to really feel for the families undergoing this nightmare. As if that’s not enough here comes the Phelps clan from the Westboro Baptist Church in Topeka, Kansas – faxing a message to the Deseret Morning News in SLC: “Thank God for the Utah Mine Disaster” to add to their burden.

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In the midst of a story at the SLC Tribune in which ” Former mine officials question federal regulators’ approval of Crandall Canyon Mine work plan” I found a couple of interesting paragraphs.

The Crandall mine was nearing the end of its life and mine owners were trying to extract the last deposits by cutting out the coal pillars that were holding up the massive amount of rock above the main tunnels.

Huge sections on either side of the main tunnels had already been mined with longwall machines. Once that coal was gone, the sections collapsed, leaving behind piles of rubble called “gob.” That essentially meant that the thick coal pillars that protected the tunnels were the only support for the mountain that rises as much as 2,200 feet above.

“Everyone understands that in the West you have tremendous pressure on those coal pillars from the overburden and they are subject to bursting or bursting of the ribs,” Oppegard said. “In either case, that can be deadly for coal miners.”

In the Crandall Canyon mine, miners have the last several months been cutting those pillars away, removing the last of the coal and allowing the roof to fall in.

In March, the mine experienced a major “bump” – a shift in the mountain that can cause the roofs or pillars to fail, the floor to heave up, or coal to explode from the tunnel walls.

I find that all tremendously scary. It’s probably summed up most accurately from the gentleman who was an employee of MSHA for 27 years and now oversees the mine safety program at Colorado School of Mines as director, who stated that the “mining being done at Crandall was extremely dangerous.”

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I keep forgetting to list these blogs: Mine Safety Watch , The Pump Handle – who mentioned Tula at one of our favorite places, firedoglake.

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