'Gold Rush: Alaska' mines hit with federal citations

Discovery Channel

Two Haines-area gold mines featured in the hit Discovery Channel series "Gold Rush: Alaska" were shut down temporarily this month after federal inspections turned up numerous alleged safety and training violations. The Chilkat Valley News reports the Jim Nail Placer Mine and Big Nugget Mine were cited for 13 violations, including 10 deemed "significant and substantial," or "reasonably likely to cause an injury severe enough to cause loss of time from work." The manager of the Big Nugget said he hadn't had a federal inspection in 25 years and thinks TV exposure drew attention from regulators.

From the CVN:

Four of eight complaints against [Big Nugget owner John] Schnabel's operation were resolved by press time, and mining resumed early this week; one of seven complaints against [Jim Nail owner Fred] Hurt was resolved and it appeared that operation had resumed there.

The agency has not yet said if either mine would be fined, but Schnabel's grandson Parker Schnabel, who manages the operation, said he was told a fine would be attached to each citation.

"It's ridiculous for a mine with three employees to be held to the same safety standards as a Greens Creek or Red Dog that have hundreds of employees," Parker Schnabel said.

Officials in the agency's Anchorage office referred questions to a Washington, D.C.-based spokesman, but provided background on the nature of the complaints. "Citations" typically refer to potential dangers, while "compliance orders" are attached to more serious hazards, an Anchorage official said.

"Gold Rush: Alaska," which follows a crew of rookie gold seekers from Oregon, used the Jim Nail mine for last season's adventures and this season has expanded into the Big Nugget mine as well as into the Yukon.

Read about the specific mining violations at the Chilkat Valley News.