Sunday, August 19, 2007

It's not time to walk away from the men in Crandall Canyon mine yet.

It's not time to walk away.

Yes, three additional miners have been killed and several injured in a cave in while trying to reach six who were trapped in the Crandell Canyon mine almost two weeks ago, but the fact is that they were set up to fail.

The mine itself has a long and well documented history of safety violations. But the rescue operation, thrown together hap-hazardly and operated by the company itself, was being run in such a dangerous way that several miners-- comrades of the men who were trapped-- refused to participate in such a dangerous venture because they could smell a death trap. They have since been shown as prophetic.

Most damning, the mine operators had a chance to accept help from the United Mine Workers-- an organization which knows a great deal about mine safety and which has been involved with a number of successful rescues. But apparently their anti-union dogma won out so that this offer of assistance was declined. Under the circumstances, should any reasonable offer of assistance be declined, from anyone who knows enough and has the resources to help?

So now they are talking about ending the search. It is true that four bore holes have been drilled without detecting any sign of the men. It is true that there is a chance that the men were killed in the initial cave-in and are buried under tons of rubble. And there is a chance that they may have survived but in the twelve agonizing days that have followed have died from injuries, lack of oxygen, lack of water or any of many other myriad possibilities. It is possible that if they are dead, their bodies may never be found.

But on one day this week some noise was detected deep inside the mine. The origin of the noise is unclear but it is quite possible that it could be the trapped men. Their employers, the government and all of us as Americans have an obligation to at least investigate whether it was, and continue to look for them and try to rescue them for as long as it is reasonably possible that they could have survived. And if they found a large chamber with breathable air (and breathable are was detected by at least one monitor sent down there) and they had some water, it is very possible that they could still be alive today.

And so we should not walk away from them.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I am in Ohio far from this, but there is not a day that goes by that I don't think about these men and their families. I hope the families are getting lots of help and support. I don't know how I would deal if it were my family member down there.
God be with them