Abandoned Mine Plugger

posted: 04/11/12
by: John Fuller
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Rock Quarry (2006)

Wanted: Abandoned Mine Plugger to locate, survey and put a cork in any hidden (but entirely dangerous) vertical mine shaft.

Position Description:

Before you apply for the job, there's some important history you'll need to know. And you might just get a pop quiz during your first interview, so pay attention:

During the Gold Rush of 1849, thousands of people looking to strike gold and make a fortune traveled to California and other parts of the American West. Huge, snaking, cavernous networks of mine shafts were dug up during the hunt, but when every last tiny particle of metal worth anything was cleared away, people either moved on to another spot or gave up looking for more gold. As the Gold Rush continued, huge holes in the ground were left behind, and years of neglect covered up those holes as dirt, leaves and other debris accumulated.

To put it into perspective: There are an estimated 47,000 abandoned mine shafts in California alone, and there are somewhere between 100,000 and 500,000 across the United States, according to the Bureau of Land Management.

The big problem is that noone's really sure where many of these abandoned mines are, since most people didn't document their excavations. These shafts could be literally anywhere, and an innocent, unknowing hiker could step on a patch of leaves, only to find himself or herself suddenly tumbling down one of these deep holes.

This is where you come in. It's up to an abandoned mine plugger to locate these holes, evaluate the area inside and outside, and plug up the very top of the mine so that passersby won't fall through. Before it's plugged, a creature evacuation must take place (read: those with a fear of bats need not apply.) If bats do live in the area, mine pluggers won't plug a hole entirely, leaving just enough space for critters to come and go as they please. Bat-free mines are corked like a bottle of champagne.

Must Know Isocyanates and Polyols:

You must be skilled in the art of plug making. In fact, if you can create a makeshift plug of polyurethane foam filled with isocyanates and polyols on the spot, you just might be our candidate. For the uninitiated: When mixed together vigorously, these alcohols create a hot chemical reaction. Once exposed to the open air, the mixture dries out into a bouncy, foamy material. To make the plug, a base is spilled out onto a tarp, where it's left to dry and firm up. Once it's ready, the foam is measured and cut to fit the size of the hole. That first layer of foam becomes the bottom of the plug. As each layer dries, another is added until the plug is flush.

Desired Skills and Qualifications:

A good knowledge of science — especially chemistry and geology — is necessary. Experience working in subterranean depths and the ability to correctly evaluate the physical processes of mine shafts is definitely desired. Bat lovers welcome.

Why You Should Want This Job:

If you want a chance to work outdoors and study the complex interactions between the Earth and wildlife (while simultaneously saving people from any unexpected falls) you should consider plugging away.

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