Over $1 Million In Fines Issued For Star Mines Double Fatality

Star Mine Operations LLC was fined $1,077,800 for the Nov. 17, 2013 blasting accident that killed Nick Cappano and Rick Williams at the underground silver mine in Ouray, Colo.
The two miners died from CO poisoning, and a total of 20 had CO exposure while attempting to rescue the two men.
MSHA issued eight unwarrantable failure orders, including six designated as flagrant violations.
MSHA said explosives were detonated in an area of the mine that was not ventilated, and no post-blast examination was conducted. Management also failed to take any action when two miners went into the unventilated area, and reported feeling ill, and it failed to withdraw miners as a result of the imminent danger created by the blast. Management did not establish an accurate and viable ventilation plan, barricade or seal unventilated areas, or properly train new employees on mine health and safety procedures. Finally, MSHA was not immediately notified of the reportable accident involving the two miners falling ill during the evening shift on Nov. 16 when they were exposed to toxic gasses.
After the accident, approximately 400 pounds of damaged and deteriorated explosives were removed from the mine and safely detonated by the U.S. Department of Justice’s Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives and the City of Grand Junction, Colorado’s, Grand Junction Bomb Squad. The remaining explosives were removed from the mine’s underground storage facilities, inventoried, separated by product type and date code, and stored in surface magazines.
A detailed story will focus on this fatal case in Vol. 21, No. 20 of Mine Safety and Health News.

Vol21, Nos19 & 20

  • Accidents:
    • Bailey mine reports two serious injuries during longwall wrap-up (612)
    • Workers injured by natural gas incident in sand dryer at Illinois company (613)
    • Utility truck accident causes fractured back at Delbarton plant (614)
    • Oak Grove Mine reports third head injury this year (614)
    • Haines & Kibblehouse worker gets concussion from flying rock (615)
    • Mechanic At Enterprise Mine #9A hit on head by ATRS bar (615)
    • Scoop operator sustains head injury at Kingston No1 (615)
    • Electrical shock has delayed effect at Federal No2 (616)
    • Bulldozer Operator safe after entrapment in coal pile at Cumberland Mine (616)
    • Extensive Roof Fall Reported In Active Area of Barrett Mine (617)
    • Civil Penalties: Commission reduces penalties for closed ICG mine (617)
      • Criminal Proceedings:
        • Justice Dept drops three-of four counts where miner lied about being certified (619)
        • Employee of laboratory admits to falsifying water samples from West Virginia mines (619)
        • Fatalities:
          • Bulldozer operator dies in fall over highwall at Manchester Mine in Alabama (620)
          • North Antelope Rochelle Mine has second contractor death this year (620)
          • Surface miner killed by rock fall in Tinsley Branch Highwall-Miner opening (622)
          • Trucker falls to death at Lehigh Evansville Plant (623)
          • Before two deaths, Mississippi Lime kept hazard notes away from MSHA (624)
          • Deep-seated safety problems preceded CO poisoning deaths at Revenue Mine (626)
          • Failure to report earlier outburst blamed in deaths at Brody Mine No1(635)
          • Inspections: Alpha’s Camp Creek Mine Gets five orders on impact visit (642)
            • Pattern of Violations: Twelve mines remain in MSHA sites for POV status (645)
              • Settlements: Unions, Congressman Miller will weigh-in on ALJ approval of settlements (647)
                • Review Commission Orders and ALJ Decisions (657)