“Our Secrets Belong To Us”
In the winter of 1984, 28 experienced miners went to work in an underground coal mine just outside of Orangeville, Utah. They dreamed of setting a “long wall” coal production world record at the Wilberg Mine. This championship endeavor would be rewarded with, a steak dinner for two, a $100 bonus and quality jackets emblazoned with the production record.
Instead, on December 19th, 1984 those miners set a modern record in the United States for deaths underground. Before the Wilberg Mine fire, I witnessed gross negligence and safety violations under the umbrella of Emery Mining Corporation (EMC), the employer and operator. Today those still responsible for the tragedy have still not been brought to justice.
A few days after the fire in 1984, on December 23rd, we in the mining community watched TV for any news about the fate of our friends and loved ones. A zealous media vulture who interviewed the wife of one of the trapped miners shoved the microphone in the face of the four year-old boy on his mother’s lap. The reporter purred, “What do you want for Christmas?” Tears streamed down the wife’s face as she valiantly tried to maintain her composure.