AUTHORITIES CONFIRM THERE was a minor cave-in at the Pictured Rocks National Seashore last evening.
The mishap was apparently caused by exploratory drilling being conducted by the Australian mining conglomerate, Weeraub-Yubleinde Ltd, headquartered in Melbourne.
“Three of our employees were injured in the incident,” said company spokeswoman Shirley Ujeste. “But the injuries weren’t serious. In fact, only one of them remains hospitalized–our staff geologist who suffered a broken femur–and we expect him to be released this afternoon. He’s a tough bloke. He’ll be back on the job tomorrow.”
She emphasized the cave-in, which occurred 400 meters below the surface just east of Miner’s Castle, did not in any way compromise the geological integrity of the park.
Weeraub-Yubleinde was granted a contract for the exploratory drilling in a rider to the Great Lakes Pure Water Act of 2016. The company began drilling last November.
The bill received relatively little publicity because it was passed at the height of the Presidential campaign.
“This exploratory shaft has tremendous potential,” explained company CEO Josh Inyew. “We’ve discovered a very promising deposit with what we think will be substantial amounts of nickel, copper, and gold, and very possibly uranium. And I’ll guarantee this right now–we will proceed with the utmost caution and respect for the Pictured Rocks environment.”
The company currently has temporary rights to drill on 28 acres of the Seashore, with an option to add an additional 202 acres if the tests prove promising.
Current regulations allow horizontal drilling directly beneath Lake Superior, but no farther than a half mile out.
Weeraub-Yubleinde has indicated they’ll seek a waiver to drill a full mile out.
The U.S. Mining Agency is overseeing the operation.
“Last night was a bit of a setback,” said agency administrator I.M. Funney. “We’re keeping an eye on it. We’re certainly hoping there won’t be any more cave-ins.”
In return for the drilling rights, Weeraub-Yubleinde is paying the federal government $1.4 million. Much of that will be spent at the Seashore for improvements in the infrastructure, including higher capacity sewer pipes, wider walkways, an expanded parking lot, and three additional restroom facilities.
News of the cave-in attracted two protesters to the park before dawn–83 year old Jerry Attrick and his 9 year old great grandson, Petey Attrick.
“They’re robbin’ us blind, these Australians,” Jerry said, with his arm wrapped around his great grandson. “They’re taking our minerals and our water. There won’t be nothing left for our young folks.”
Petey had a different take. “I think it’d be kinda cool to go down in the cave, Pops. Maybe you and me could find a gold nugget.”
Drilling is expected to resume today.
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