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Murray Says Crandall Canyon Mine to Be Closed

Crandall Canyon coal mine co-owner Bob Murray updates reporters on rescue efforts to reach six trapped miners Aug. 14, 2007, near Huntington, Utah.
Justin Sullivan
Getty Images
Crandall Canyon coal mine co-owner Bob Murray updates reporters on rescue efforts to reach six trapped miners Aug. 14, 2007, near Huntington, Utah.

The Utah mine where three rescuers died trying to rescue six trapped miners will be closed, co-owner Bob Murray tells NPR. He also says that a sixth hole will be drilled in an attempt to find the trapped miners.

"This mine is going to be sealed and closed," Murray said he told federal mining regulators. "It's a deadly mountain and I'm not going near it," he told NPR.

That comes after the families of six miners missing in the Crandall Canyon mine for two weeks protested plans to continue mining, even if the trapped men are never found.

On Sunday, Murray Energy Vice President Rob Moore indicated that the company would still mine remaining coal reserves at Crandall Canyon. Murray indicated the same thing in a news conference Monday. Both statements triggered a sharp rebuke from the missing miners' families.

Murray also told NPR's John Ydstie that a fifth borehole searching for signs of life in the mine was completed Wednesday morning. The federal Mine Safety and Health Administration told reporters Wednesday night that the fifth borehole did not find a survivable space in the mine. It detected only a six inch gap between the top of a rubble pile and the ceiling of a mine shaft. A microphone lowered into the shaft detected no sounds from the trapped miners

Murray says a sixth borehole will be drilled beginning Thursday morning. It targets the mine shaft the miners were working in August 6th when the coal seam around them exploded. Earlier boreholes tapped possible escape routes. Officials say the sixth borehole should reach the targeted mine shaft Friday night or Saturday morning.

"I'm going to drill until we have no more places to drill," Murray said. "But it's very likely that the miners are trapped and we'll not get them out."

Murray told reporters Wednesday night that there won't be any more attempts to find the missing men, unless the sixth borehole produces some sign of the miners. "This is the last hope," he said.

Three rescuers died and six were injured Aug. 16 before direct rescue efforts were suspended. An independent team of experts concluded Sunday that it's too dangerous to tunnel through the debris-filled mine shaft where the miners are believed to be trapped.

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