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News media sue to open probe into Utah mine disaster

  • Story Highlights
  • News media group asks court to stop probe until judge rules whether to open it
  • Investigation being done by Mine Safety and Health Administration
  • Media coalition also requests transcripts of any closed meetings already held
  • Six miners trapped when mine collapsed August 6; three died in rescue try
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(CNN) -- A coalition of news media organizations has filed suit in an effort to get the government investigation into the Crandall Canyon mine accident opened to the public.

Rescuers drill into the Crandall Canyon mine on August 16 to try to reach six miners trapped underground.

The group -- including CNN, The Associated Press, The Salt Lake Tribune and the Deseret Morning News -- asked a federal court on Monday to stop the proceedings until a judge can rule on whether to open them.

The suit also asked that a transcript be provided of any closed hearings that may have already occurred.

The coalition noted that the same court ruled after a similar accident more than 20 years ago that the Mine Safety and Health Administration must make its proceedings public.

"Sadly, another mine disaster and more Utah miner (and mine rescuer) deaths have led Defendant here to convene another MSHA panel, this time with a goal of determining MSHA's alleged complicity in the accident," the plaintiffs' attorneys wrote.

"This MSHA panel today is basically doing the same types of things that it did 20 some years ago."

The Department of Labor, which includes MSHA, has not allowed the news media access to its investigation into the August 6 cave-in of the mine in central Utah. Six miners were trapped and are presumed dead.

On August 16, three other people, including an MSHA inspector, died as they attempted to reach the trapped miners, whose bodies have never been recovered.

A call to the Department of Labor was not immediately returned.

Also joining the suit is the Utah Media Coalition, representing Utah newspapers, television stations and journalism groups. E-mail to a friend E-mail to a friend

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