Kensington Mine owners settle with Environmental Protection Agency

Kensington Mine owners settle with Environmental Protection Agency

Violations were discovered in 2015.

The Environmental Protection Agency reached a settlement with Coeur Alaska, the company that owns the Kensington Mine northwest of Juneau, over violations at that facility.

Coeur Alaska will pay $534,500 for three separate violations and a fine for discharge violations that took place at the Kensington gold mine.

“Coeur Alaska’s Kensington mine generates and manages large volumes of both wastewater and stormwater containing pollutants that can degrade water quality and seriously harm aquatic life,” said Ed Kowalski, EPA’s Enforcement and Compliance Assurance Division director in Seattle, in a press release.

“By looking at the entire facility during the multimedia inspection, we had a clearer picture of day-to-day operations. Coeur Alaska can and must do better in order to comply with our fundamental laws that protect people and the environment,” Kowalski added in the release.

The violations were discovered in 2015 during a joint inspection by the EPA and Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation.

Violations include: 200 wastewater discharge violations, unauthorized discharge of acid rock drainage into Lower Slate Lake; improper operation and maintenance of sampling equipment; multiple effluent sampling violations; failure to develop a complete stormwater pollution prevention plan; failure to repair a secondary containment structure for over a year that holds a majority of the facility’s fuel; failure to conduct required monitoring, assessments, inspections and training; failure to use proper sample handling and analysis procedures; and failure to report releases of nitrate compounds annually from 2013 to 2017, according to the release.

As part of the agreement, Coeur consented to ensuring that acid rock drainage in Lower Salt Lake would be collected and treated before being discharged into the lake. On Aug. 1, the state of Alaska modified Coeur’s permit to authorize discharge of residual acid rock drainage into Lower Slate Lake.

A previous version of this article stated that the total fines to be paid by Coeur Alaska totaled over $1 million. The total of the three separate fines amounts to $534,500. This article has been updated to reflect the correct amount. The Empire regrets this error.

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