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Statement of Senator Michael B. Enzi

on the Success of Wyoming’s teams

at the National Mine Rescue Competition

September 19, 2006

Mr. President, I am pleased to rise today to report some good news with regard to mine safety and to congratulate FMC Corporation’s White Team for being the best mine rescue team in the nation. As we all know, the mining community experienced a profound loss this year with the disasters at the Sago and Aracoma coal mines in West Virginia and at the Darby Mine in Kentucky. The tragic loss of life in these accidents served to re-affirm the commitment of all those involved in the industry to ensuring and improving the safety and welfare of our nation’s miners.

Essential to that effort, and emblematic of our commitment, was the passage of the Mine Improvement and New Emergency Response (MINER) Act of 2006. The MINER Act passed this body unanimously. It was then signed into law by President Bush and implemented by the Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA).

As the primary sponsor of the MINER Act, I am confident that this new law will improve the safety of our underground mines and reduce the likelihood of similar tragic accidents in the future. In the careful and deliberate process of developing the MINER Act the views of all stakeholders were solicited and carefully considered. Although in many areas there were differences of opinion, all those involved in the issue of mine safety were in agreement on the critical role played by mine rescue teams, and universal in their praise of the dedicated individuals who serve on them.

Rescue teams represent the very finest traditions of the mining community. Composed of volunteers, highly trained and experienced, these teams stand ready to come to the aid of their fellow miners in the most critical and dangerous of situations. The MINER Act explicitly recognizes the essential role of mine rescue teams and the importance of their training and support.

Part of the training and the tradition of mine rescue teams is their participation in competitions that pit the teams against each another. Each year MSHA holds a national mine rescue competition that draws teams from throughout the United States. This year, the metal, non-metal mine competition was held in Reno, Nevada. I am particularly pleased to report FOUR TEAMS FROM SOUTHWESTERN WYOMING PLACED IN THE TOP SIX SPOTS IN A FIELD OF THIRTY-FOUR TEAMS FROM ACROSS THE NATION!

The FMC Corporation White Team, which was led by Leroy Hutchinson, won the competition. The White Team was followed by the FMC Red Team, led by Bob Knot. OCI Chemical’s Blue Team, which was led by Gary Ruiz, placed fifth, and Solvay’s Silver Team, which was led by Shawn Marshall, placed sixth.

These teams represent the best of southwest Wyoming’s soda ash industry. The four companies that mine the mineral Trona in Wyoming account for 90 percent of the U.S. production of soda ash. Soda ash is a commodity required for the production of glass. It is also a very important export that accounts for $500 million of our balance of trade.

I am very proud of this year’s showing by our Wyoming soda ash industry in this competition. It is important to remember that although this is a competition, it is not a sport. The National Mine Safety Rescue Contest and other mine safety rescue contests are training events. They help prepare mine rescue teams so they are ready to act if they are ever called to deal with a situation that we hope will never occur.

When accidents happen, miners count on volunteer mine rescue teams to save them. Those mine rescue teams need to have the best resources available to them and the training they will need to be prepared for anything that may happen as they take on that important job. Mine rescue competitions play an important role in that effort by providing mine rescue teams with the kind of experience they will need if they are to perform at the highest level of efficiency in the event there is an emergency. They offer a chance for teams to improve their communication skills, to consider previously unforeseen problems and to get feedback on their performance from contest judges.

Although these teams compete against each other in mine rescue contests, when a real world situation arises, they operate as one cohesive unit to affect a rescue. Each company can draw on the goodwill and collective expertise of the mine rescue teams to help bring miners in danger to safety. In the spirit of brotherhood and cooperation the teams know that if there is a mine emergency they will have the support they will need to bring the victims of the accident and their fellow rescue workers out of the mine and home to their families and loved ones.

In other words, while these companies compete in the marketplace and mine rescue teams compete in these contests, they will stand shoulder to shoulder should an accident occur at the mine.

Without objection, I would like to include the names of each of the participants of our teams in Southwest Wyoming who competed in the National Mine Rescue Competition. Although I particularly want to congratulate the FMC White Team, the FMC Red Team, OCI Chemical’s Blue Team and Solvay’s Silver Team, I want to congratulate and thank all those who participated. Your efforts continue to make a difference by making our mines a safer place for all our nation’s miners to work.


FMC White Team

Leroy Hutchinson (Captain) (Benchman), Tony Herrera, Alan Jones (Gas), Robert Byers, Brad Roll, Bronson Berg, Vern Plantenberg, Mike Padilla (Team Trainer)

FMC White First Aid

Robert Byers, Bronson Berg, Vern Plantenberg

FMC Red Team

Bob Knott (Captain), Mark Anderson, Rick Owens (Gas), Robert Pope, Bill Madura, Daniel Hellickson, Rod Knight (Benchman), Mike Padilla (Team Trainer), Dave Hutchinson (Team Trainer), Rick Steenberg (Official in Charge), Robert Pope, Mark Anderson, Bill Madura

FMC Red First Aid

Robert Pope, Mark Anderson, Bill Madura

General Chemical Blue

Jeff Downey (Captain), Doug Cox (Gas), Steve McKeehan, Mickey Smith, Willie Cederburg, Stan Owens, Terry Hansen, Leslie Wareham (Benchman), Keith Mullins (Team Trainer), David Graham (Official in Charge), Mickey SmithTerry Hansen, Steve McKeehan

General Chemical Blue First Aid

Mickey Smith, Terry Hansen, Steve McKeehan

General Chemical Black

Alan Brewer (Captain), Byron Willingham, Lucas Coon (Gas), Curtiss Cooley, Jr., Steve Roberts, Tommy Graham, Ken Ball, Charles Beard (Benchman), John E. Sykes (Team Trainer), David Graham (Official in Charge), Steve McKeehan

General Chemical Black First Aid

Byron Willingham, Steve Roberts, Curtiss Cooley, Jr.

OCI White Team

Jack J. Volsey II (Captain), Chuck Jones, Paul Larson (Gas), Ted Laughlin, Scott Counts, Kyle Butcher, Willy Moore (Benchman), Nathan Kendall, Matt Cummings (Team Trainer), Rick Terry (Team Trainer), Tim Musbach (Official in Charge)

OCI White First Aid

Chuck Jones, Ted Laughlin, Nathan Kendall

OCI Blue Team

Gary Ruiz (Captain), Bill Mehle (Gas), Brent Skorcz, Blake Barney, Dennie Hughes (Benchman), Don O'Lexey, Richard Clark, Tyler Lovato, Rick Terry (Team Trainer), Matt Cummings (Team Trainer), Tim Musbach (Official in Charge)

OCI Blue First Aid

Blake Barney, Don O'Lexey, Dennie Hughes

Solvay Silver Team

Shawn Marshall (Captain), Joe Thompson, Bob Clement, Scott Brown (Benchman), Gerald Maxfield (Gas), Brian Liscomb, Ryan Hansen, Dusty Martin, Jeff Tetmore (Team Trainer), John Angwin (Official in Charge)

Solvay Silver First Aid Team

Shawn Marshall, Joe Thompson, Dusty Martin

Solvay Blue Team

Joe McDonald (Captain), Chad Rawlins (Gas), Kent Boman, Jamie McGillis, Jerry Huntington, Brian Quick, Jody Burgener, Dennis Hughes (Benchman), David Stevenson (Team Trainer), John Angwin (Official in Charge)

Solvay Blue First Aid Team

Joe McDonald, Kent Boman, Jamie McGillis