Death of Malheur County man still under investigation

By Pat Caldwell

The Enterprise

VALE – The investigation into the death of a local man at a mining site is still under investigation by the federal Mine Safety and Health Administration.

Dalton Rodriguez, 26, Vale, was mowing the lawn at EP Minerals west of Vale July 14 when he stopped to move a sprinkler pipe.

As he did so, the pipe touched an overhead power line and electrocuted Rodriguez, said Julie Brown, director of marketing and communications for EP Minerals.

Rodriguez was not an employee of EP Minerals but a worker hired through a temp agency, said Brown.

The Malheur County Sheriff’s Office ruled the incident an accident.

However, the Mine Safety and Health Administration is probing the incident.

“The investigation is still in progress. Fatality investigations can take several weeks to complete,” said Amy Louviere, agency spokesperson.

The Mine Safety and Health Administration develops and enforces safety and health rules for all U.S. mines.

“It is terribly sad,” said Brown.

Brown said EP Minerals is working closely with the federal mine safety board.

“We are very, very careful about how we operate our mines and plants,” said Brown.

Brown said the Mine Safety and Health Administration have completed interviews regarding the incident at the Vale facility.

“They will eventually release what they call a red jacket report with their findings,” said Brown.

EP Minerals is a global firm with its headquarters in Reno, Nevada.

EP Minerals  mines diatomaceous earth, clay and perlite.

Those minerals are used for filters, additives, biofuels, paint, plastics and agriculture.

The Vale EP Minerals plant employs 112 people.


Have a news tip? Contact reporter Pat Caldwell at [email protected] or 541-473-3377.