'Gold Rush: Alaska' mines on Porcupine Creek shut down temporarily (VIDEO)

Reality came to Porcupine Creek when two of the mines from the Discovery Channel series Gold Rush found themselves on the receiving end of a long list of complaints from the U.S. Mine Safety and Health Administration in August.

Reality hit the Gold Rush Porcupine Creek gold mines hard in August, when the two mines were closed temporarily due to failing to meet federal training requirements.

According to the Anchorage Daily News (ADN), the U.S. Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) issued citations and compliance orders against the Big Nugget Mine, owned by John Schnabel and managed by his grandson Parker Schnabel, and the Jim Nail Placer Mine, operated by “Dakota” Fred Hurt, that resulted in the mines being closed temporarily. In total, 13 citations and two compliance orders were issued against the mines, both featured on the Discovery Channel reality series, Gold Rush.

RELATED: 'Gold Rush: Alaska': John Schnabel, not the Hoffmans, living the true American Dream

“Citations,” a spokesman for MSHA told ADN, usually refer to potential dangers and hazards, while “compliance orders” are more serious. The inspections by MSHA were conducted at the mines between Aug. 4 and 8, 2011. By Aug. 23, four of eight complaints directed toward the Big Nugget mine had been resolved, and the mine was allowed to begin operations again. One of seven of the complaints directed toward the Jim Nail Placer Mine were resolved by that date, and mining resumed there, as well, ADN reported.

Complaints against the Big Nugget Mine included violations pertaining to traffic signs warning of hazardous conditions; berms and guardrails; emergency firefighting drills; quarterly employment reports; insulation and fitting of power wires; training plans; and scaffolding. Complaints against the Jim Nail Placer Mine included safe means of access; housekeeping; arrangements for emergency medical assistance; emergency firefighting drills; and training plans.

Of the total complaints, MSHA deemed 10 of the 15 (13 citations, two compliance orders) “significant and substantial” or “reasonably likely to cause an injury severe enough to cause loss of time from work.” However, Parker Schnabel told ADN that he did not agree with the complaints filed against the mine.

"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," Schnabel said. Schnabel also indicated that he was sure that the television exposure of the Big Nugget and Jim Nail Placer Mines brought them to the attention of regulators, resulting in the inspections. "We've been operating 25 years and never had a (federal) inspection," he said.

UPDATE: 'Gold Rush: Alaska' ends season with broken machines and no gold (VIDEO)

ADN reported that the compliance orders issued were in reference to a federal requirement that miners receive at least 24 hours of safety and related procedures training. This training is to include firefighting, self-rescue, hazard recognition, explosives and first aid. At the time of the ADN report, on Aug. 23, 2011, Parker Schnabel confirmed that he and the employees of the Big Nugget mine had completed 16 hours of classroom training in a State of Alaska safety course.

The Discovery Channel’s Gold Rush airs Fridays at 9 p.m. (ET).

Image: Wikimedia Commons

Video: Discovery Channel, Gold Rush

Comments

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on
well they got to get there hands in the pot to.its them union babys they got to have it there way .should have seen that one coming. msha my butt gold diggers out of your pockets.25yrs never seen msha they just want on tv to show their dumb asses

Submitted by jason Michardi (not verified) on
these mines are in the middle of know where, what gives the state or federal government the right to tell us we are unsafe. Im sorry but these government officials should take a second and realize that the american people pay there wages not the government. these are hard working Americans trying to make there own way. if I want to dig a hole on the side of a hill looking for gold , thats my choice if its unsafe , i made that decision and i will live and die with it. the only reason the government is stepping in is to tax and fine . this is just another sad example of whats happening with our rights and the attack on our constitution. when a government starts to tell you what to do , we are not free. wake up Americans he time has come to make a choice

Submitted by Danny (not verified) on
Your right..if you were the one digging the hole..your life is in your hands. But, those mines have more than one worker on it. If one worker does something stupid, people can get hurt and or killed. Heavy machinery, explosives and remote location is what makes mines dangerous and wouldn't you want the man working next to you know what to do if you flip a dozer and your pinned??. What if one of your workers die?? Are you going to support that mans family? What is going to happen is that your going to be sued. not to metion that your mine will get a rep for being a widowmaker and therefore no one will work for you unless you pay them a really good wage. Well I can guess you can always work all the machines yourself. Safety rules exist for a reason. The fed regulations exist so that both large and small companies behave themselves. If you can't see the reasoning behind that..then just ignore what i said and go mine

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on
Well you know what your getting into when you sign up. You have the right to quit unlike our soldiers who risk their lives for dumb decisions our government makes. Who regulates them? All companies that are looking for loopholes are gonna find them whether or not their are rules in place. Cant regulate everything but they damn sure are trying.

Submitted by AnonymousThom (not verified) on
Its getting to be the same ole BS over and over again. The government flunkies need to butt out and let people willing and able support their families. These men are good, hard working, God Fearing Americans "Let it be" Why is it that our Lefty Government can`t see that?

Submitted by Miner Nate (not verified) on
A lot of these comments are very ignorant. I work in the mining industry and enjoy watching this show. My first thought watching for the first time was that these guys are just begging for an inspection from MSHA. Every regulation in 30CFR was written in blood and every regulation is written in order to protect miners from unsafe working conditions. As a miner I am glad that MSHA is there, otherwise many mines would operate with a reckless disregard to human life (see China). You people that are not miners that comment on here like you know what it's like to work in this industry just because you saw a TV show about should just shut up and quit making yourselves look like complete idiots.

Submitted by Jamesb (not verified) on
There is nothing idiotic about wanting to be free. Maybe you want to keep letting the government step on your rights but you being a miner doesn't make you the only person qualified to voice their opinion.

Submitted by Sitemaster2012 (not verified) on
We are independents politically (my wife and me) but we are fully in support of the current Republican campaign to reign in regulation that is giving foreign countries a huge advantage over U.S. companies and especially entrepreneurs like gold miners, farmers and others. Regulation is getting ridiculous.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on
There is no doubt that the only reason the inspectors were there is because of the show but as for the comments that you should be able to do whatever you want on your owner property with no safety regulations well that is just plain ignorant. First if you have no insurance I have to pay for the helicopter to get you to the hospital, I have to pay someone to investigate what happened, if your stupid a*s dies I have to pay your wife and kids welfare. Now in case you haven't noticed both mining camps are not just 1 person and unless you are really stupid you have to realize there is an entire production crew at each camp that are in harms way. I am sure the state would have left them alone with just a pair of family members at each camp but when you add a bunch of television crews it changes everything.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on
if you dont have insurance and a helo has to pick you up from out there the tax payers dont pay that shit, the ER will send you the bill in the mail. same thing if you live in town and a ambulance has to take you 3 miles to a hospital they charge you like 2500 bucks. tax's dont pay for that shit unless your a boarder jumper getting welfare. AMERICANS DONT GET HELP FROM THE GOVERMENT.

Submitted by Right On (not verified) on
You absolutely right , THE GOVERMENT DOSENT HELP OUT AMERICANS ,only people with out green cards , so that's were your tax dollars are going , its all about the money !!!!!! Time to downsize the government , too much waste,

Submitted by GovernorGoldGiggles (not verified) on
Those boys up there needed to get with the program. If they had imported some illegal undocumented workers from south of the Lower 48 they would have kept digging till they struck petro in China. Nothing will keep those pesky G-man regulators away like a possible mass deportation. Take a lesson from our Agriculture boys.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on
This is not always true. it is often someone else's insurance or government grants that pay for it. it's called price shifting. hospitals do it all the time because they are required to help you weather you can afford it or not . non life saving procedures are often not covered but if the patient has any life threatening injuries hospitals are required by law to provide treatment also some fire departments offer services like "medic one" which as a public service are required to respond and transport regardless of weather they get payment from the injured persons. most uninsured people will only be required to pay a small portion if any at all. mostly depends on state and local laws. I used to work in an emergency room as an orderly i saw this all the time. and as for the 2500 bucks that is a little steep most private medical transport companies charge 300-500 dollars to uninsured persons. but due to price shifting your insurance bill may show 2500 dollars because the hospital is shifting the cost you your insurance company in order to pay for several un insured persons

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on
There is no doubt that the only reason the inspectors were there is because of the show but as for the comments that you should be able to do whatever you want on your owner property with no safety regulations well that is just plain ignorant. First if you have no insurance I have to pay for the helicopter to get you to the hospital, I have to pay someone to investigate what happened, if your stupid a*s dies I have to pay your wife and kids welfare. Now in case you haven't noticed both mining camps are not just 1 person and unless you are really stupid you have to realize there is an entire production crew at each camp that are in harms way. I am sure the state would have left them alone with just a pair of family members at each camp but when you add a bunch of television crews it changes everything.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on
Yea ignorant indeed cause you pay for all that regardless of what any one person decides to do if someone dies it's not like you have to pay more

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on
Parker's mom warned him. If you don't want to pay; keep your Mom away. I love the show. Stay safe all you miners.

Submitted by Iron Oxide (not verified) on
If you put yourself out there in the public eye and "on TV" you can expect attention from every angle. One show pictured a quote "were on the mine put your lids on", however the high school kid and his crew had none. OSHA 101. And having the kid run equipment if it wasn't family owned property would have been stopped imediately. Remember people who watch the show are in a way looking up to these guys. Set a good example for your self and your viewers. And of coarse the bottom line is safety first.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on
should an under aged Parker be operating heavy equipment on a job site next to employeess? Is Parker qualified to operate that equipment?

Submitted by mtn60 (not verified) on
Imagine all the noobies who after seeing the series will jump in their trucks and head up to AK to try their luck. What you have then is an influx of people who know nothing bout real work and mining and the hazards associated with it. IF there is one good thing bout the violations is they bring to light you will be inspected or at least watched to make sure your "Legit" And really how big a deal is it to take some time for a couple of courses, post signage, have an evac and emergency plan in place, Huh ? You guys can be all 'cowboy' about being against it all. But in the end it's for yours and your co-workers safety. It's not 1898 anymore !

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on
If you own land then on your land you should be aloud to do what ever you want without someone telling you what and how you can do it but because the US is not actually free this is why they come in and tell you what you can do. And being safe is common sense and if your crew knows what can happen and accepts their fate then you should be aloud to do anything on your property that doesnt effect anyone else.

Submitted by bill t (not verified) on
that was the dumbest statement so far. The 49ers didn't have some beer bellied union thug following them around citing them for nit putting a helmet on their mules. The gov did not make those guys any safer. That gov thug would have spent his time better doing some sit ups and pushups from the bar. Bet you live in the city

Submitted by Royce Lerwick (not verified) on
Todd Hoffman, manipulative sociopath. Know-nothing. Jack Hoffman, demented old morphine addict who played a very minor role in the gold craze of the late 70's to mid-80's. Skills: Todd: BS Artist. Manipulates religious, family and friendship connections to self-promote various grandiose projects. Jack: Has basic understanding of how an excavator works, but not the slightest clue about even rudimentary engineering or physics connected to actual excavation. Basic familiarity with panning, the most rudimentary gold mining skill. Main accomplishments: Todd--losing claims, excavating the wrong claims, the wrong areas on own claims, buying nonexistent claims on theinternet, and when finally getting a workable claim, telling the claim owner's man to piss off when he is sent out to investigate the Hoffman crew's obvious lack of knowledge, experience, performance, or talent in gold mining. Jack--spends most of his time undermining himself while mindlessly digging holes with all the skill and intelligence of a toddler in a sandbox. Reason for investigation of Hoffmann's old claim at Porcupine Creek? Parker Schnabel's operation as well? Todd and Jack Hoffman's shamefully ignorant television exposure on national and international television making the entire mining industry look like a circus run by mentally and emotionally challenged children. In the west, it's usually the wagon train following the arse-holes who pass through stirring up the natives and locals that gets retaliated against.

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