MSHA's investigation continues at Star Mine Operations

By: Gina Esposito Email
By: Gina Esposito Email

OURAY, Colo. Officials have blocked off the entrance to the Revenue Virginius mine, owned by Star Mine Operations LLC, at County Road 361 as the Mine Safety and Heath Administration or (MSHA) continues it's investigation, Monday.

Sunday's mining accident that left 19 men hospitalized and 2 men dead came as a surprise to local emergency responders. Especially since, they just completed training for this type of emergency days before the tragedy. Emergency Manager for Ouray County, Glenn Boyd, said, "This whole response was just trained on the day before it happened... it was very fresh in the responders mind... very helpful."

Boyd also said, "Ouray hasn't seen many incidents this size before with this many patients.. as far as I know this is one of the bigger incidents that Ouray has ever responded to."

Star Mine Operations LLC received a permit for the Revenue-Virginius mine in 2011, but didn't officially start mining silver, gold, and sulfide materials there until February of this year. Spokesperson for Star Mine Operations LLC, Rory Williams said, "MSHA is investigating further and trying to determine what happened in that area and why it happened in that area." MSHA regulates mine safety and enforcement., while the Colorado Division of Reclamation, Mining, and Safety or (DRMS) is in charge of regulating environmental impacts of the mine. DRMS' last inspection was in September 2013.

Williams said, "I believe a blast was involved, which did create some gasses which potentially the miners did inhale and caused their subsequent collapse." While the Ouray County Sheriff's office ruled out explosion and collapse as the cause of the accident, many locals we spoke with said explosions done a few days before may have released the poison gas. Officials have yet to confirm the source of the carbon monoxide.

The Revenue Virginius Mine will remain closed as MSHA continues it's investigation. Officials said the report should be released in the next couple of days.

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