U.S. Division of Labor asks federal choose to drive inspections of Fairbanks-area gold mine

The federal Mine Security and Well being Administration is asking a U.S. District Courtroom choose for an uncommon courtroom order requiring a Fairbanks gold mine to open its gates for inspectors.

On Sept. 8, attorneys representing the Division of Labor requested Decide Josh Kindred for fast consideration of their request.

Based on courtroom paperwork, mine operator Sheldon Meier has blocked federal inspectors from Pedro Creek Mine — a web site immediately adjoining to the gold declare that led to the founding of Fairbanks — for greater than a 12 months.

Federal regulation requires mines to be commonly inspected for security, although there are totally different guidelines for small mines that don’t have any staff past the owner-operator and mines that function seasonally.

In state filings, Meier mentioned the mine has no staff, however in 2022, an nameless complainant mentioned Meier was illegally using three miners. Based on courtroom data, after Meier blocked an inspector from visiting, the inspector returned with a second inspector aboard a helicopter and confirmed security violations and the presence of three untrained miners.

Inspectors cited Meier, who refused to simply accept the citations and refused to permit followup inspections. Throughout drives by the mine web site, inspectors mentioned they noticed continued work.

In April, Meier appeared on a neighborhood radio present and mentioned he had “17 egregious security violations ready for (himself)” and that he denied the allegations.

In letters to the mine security company, Meier mentioned that the mine doesn’t have staff and claimed that it has the best to confront his nameless accuser.

Minor mine security violations are widespread in Alaska, which has a lot of steel mines, however federal courtroom circumstances involving security inspections are vanishingly uncommon.

Meier has a historical past of confrontations with the federal authorities. In 2013, Meier represented gold miners close to Rooster who mentioned they have been unjustly confronted by armed brokers from the Environmental Safety Company.

The EPA’s actions later grew to become a part of a Republican-led Congressional inquiry into potential overreach by the EPA.

Neither Meier nor the Division of Labor lawyer representing the federal authorities within the present case returned emails looking for remark Friday.

The case stays open in entrance of Kindred, who could challenge an order later this month.