On Wednesday afternoon, CONSOL Energy officials released a detailed plan they made with MSHA, mine safety groups and other mine representatives to recover an employee who went into a slurry pond last Friday.
At the request of family, the missing employee will not be publicly identified at this time but the plan to reach him is being shared. There's two in place right now. One is a short term plan and the other is a long term one if the first one fails. They came up with these plans after lowering water levels and using SONAR to find the submerged bull dozer, which is at least 22 feet below the surface.
The first plan is a pipe dive, which includes a dive team out of Louisiana. They'll be constructing two 20 feet pipes to lower from a work deck, which is currently being made from 14 barges on top of the slurry. These pipes will reach down to the bull dozer and jets will flush out solid materials, allowing the divers to enter the area of the bull dozer and hopefully recover the employee.
"Divers are expected to work in this area, in the dark and the consistency of water will be dark also. Once complete, the bull dozer will be located by touch, then the divers will enter the cab and plans are to recover our employee," said Lou Barletta, CONSOL Energy Vice President of Safety.
The divers could enter the slurry this weekend. In the meantime, they're studying a bull dozer that's identical to the submerged one so they'll know where to enter.
The long term plan includes building a cofferdam, which is a sheet-piling wall, and lowering it from the surface.
There's no guarantee the dozer operator is inside the machine. He went under with it, two trucks and two other employees on Friday, when a refuse embankment gave way.