Deadly Ouray mine hit with 97 violations

Federal mine inspectors have written up 97 violations for the Ouray County mine where two miners died of carbon monoxide poisoning last month.

Inspectors for the Mine Safety and Health Administration found the violations during spot inspections between Dec. 4 and 11. They were not issued as violations that contributed to the fatal accident Nov. 17, said MSHA spokeswoman Amy Louviere.

The accident investigation is ongoing.

“At the conclusion of the investigation, MSHA will release a comprehensive report detailing the accident’s root cause and any violations that contributed to the accident,” Louviere said in an email.

The accident at the Revenue-Virginius Mine about six miles south of Ouray took the lives of Rick Williams of Durango and Nick Cappanno of Montrose. Both died of carbon monoxide poisoning.

Williams, the crew supervisor, died when he went looking for Cappanno, who didn’t return after entering an area of the mine where recent blasting had occurred. Twenty other crew members were treated at a Montrose hospital for carbon monoxide exposure.

The December citations include several electrical code violations, inadequate training for miners, insufficient surveys of dust and gas inside the mine, and substandard escape ways and refuges for miners.

MSHA has not yet calculated fines for the new violations.

The mine has been in existence since the 1870s, but it was taken over by Denver-based Star Mine Operations in 2011.

The mine had eight accidents that resulted in injuries since Star Mine Operations took over, according to MSHA records. Inspectors had written up 33 violations for the company before the fatal accident.

Mine manager Rory Williams, who is not related to Rick Williams, was not available to comment Friday when the Herald called Star Mine’s headquarters in Denver.