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PA CALIFORNIA MINE OWNER PLEADS GUILTY FOR VIOLATING THE CLEAN WATER ACT

Release Date: 10/24/97
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FOR RELEASE: FRIDAY, OCTOBER 24, 1997

CALIFORNIA MINE OWNER PLEADS GUILTY FOR VIOLATING THE CLEAN WATER ACT

On Oct. 15, Harold J. Biaggini, the owner and operator of two closed mercury mines in San Luis Obispo County, California, pleaded guilty to violating the Clean Water Act (CWA) in U.S. District Court for the Central District of California in Los Angeles. Biaggini admitted to discharging acidic mine seepage water contaminated with mercury in excess of the limits set by his CWA permit from a containment pond at one of his mines. The seepage was discharged into the North Fork of Las Tablas Creek, which ultimately feeds California's Lake Naciamento. Biaggini also entered a guilty plea on behalf of his corporation, Buena Vista Mines Inc., of Morro Bay, Calif. When sentenced in May 1998, the defendants must demonstrate how they have corrected the discharge problem. Mercury is a highly toxic metal which can cause severe neurological damage in humans. This case was investigated by EPA's Criminal Investigation Division, the FBI and the State of California Water Quality Resources Board.


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