RENEE MONTAGNE, host:
This is MORNING EDITION from NPR News. I'm Renee Montagne.
JOHN YDSTIE, host:
And I'm John Ydstie. Steve Inskeep is on assignment.
There have been no signs of life from deep within Utah's Crandall Canyon Mine, where six coal miners have been trapped for 18 days. But crews continue to drill boreholes into the mine in an effort to find the missing men. The mine's co-owner, Bob Murray, spoke to us yesterday just as a fifth borehole was completed. He said it won't be the last attempt to locate the missing men.
Mr. BOB MURRAY (Co-Owner, Crandall Canyon Mine): We've been here now for two weeks and three days. We will drill a sixth hole after this one. After that, the options are slim as to where we can drill, sir.
YDSTIE: There's a lot of talk now that these miners are likely to remain entombed in this mine. It will be their final resting place. Would you agree with that? Is that what's going to happen?
Mr. MURRAY: I would say it's a high probability that that is the case, John, much to my misery and the grief of the families and all of us that have been involved in this effort. It's been a tragedy.
YDSTIE: Let me ask you this, Mr. Murray. Many of the families of the trapped miners are angered over the suspension of efforts to find them. One of them, as I understand it, threw a dollar bill at you as sort of a symbolic act, suggesting that you had given up on them.
Mr. MURRAY: It's unfortunate that many of the trapped miners' families really don't understand and are totally irrational at this point. And I can't continue to try to make people that are very emotional, and rightly so, understand the technology of coal mining.
YDSTIE: Let me ask you this, Mr. Murray. You said that you were going to get these miners out dead or alive, and you've now suggested that's not going to be the case. Isn't that what the families are angry about, that you told them one thing and now you're going to leave the miners there?
Mr. MURRAY: I think that's a fair question. I went before the families, not once but several times now, and have been very honest with them. And I said we're not giving up hope. I'm going to drill until we have no more places to drill. But it's very likely that the miners are trapped and we'll not get them out.
YDSTIE: Mr. Murray, let me ask you about the future of mining on the mountain. Are you going to mine either in the Crandall Canyon Mine or in any other mines nearby?
Mr. MURRAY: Not in the Crandall Canyon Mine. This mine is going to be sealed and closed. I will never go back in there. Things happened here that have never happened. John, I have men here that have hundreds and hundreds of years of mining experience. They never saw this before. The mountain is alive. It's a deadly mountain, and I am not going near it.
YDSTIE: Are you going to mine in other mines nearby? There was some concern, I think, among some miners that you might go in nearby.
Mr. MURRAY: The employees asked me, Mr. Murray, what about my job? I've transferred them to our West Ridge and Tower Mines here in Utah. They're all working. There are reserves here, and I said to them, some day, after many studies and under much less cover and certainly not that mountain, but in an entirely different mining area, we may come back over in this region and mine again. But that is for another day, and it's going to be way off and it's going to be after many, many studies, John.
YDSTIE: Bob Murray is the co-owner of the Crandall Canyon coal mine in Utah. He spoke with us yesterday from just outside the mine.
NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by Verb8tm, Inc., an NPR contractor, and produced using a proprietary transcription process developed with NPR. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.