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Coeur Alaska Inc. agrees to pay over $100,000 to settle Clean Water Act violations

Release Date: 12/21/2006
Contact Information: Robert Grandinetti, (509) 376-3748, grandinetti.robert@epa.gov, Tony Brown, (206) 553-1203, brown.anthony@epa.gov

(Juneau, Alaska – Dec. 21, 2006) Coeur Alaska Inc. (Coeur Alaska) has agreed to pay an EPA penalty of $18,334 to resolve federal Clean Water Act (CWA) violations at the Kensington Gold Project located 40 miles north of Juneau, Alaska. In addition to the penalty, Coeur Alaska has also agreed to perform a Supplemental Environmental Project (SEP) which will provide $90,000 towards the acquisition of a wetland near Juneau. The wetland will be protected under a conservation easement.

The violations include exceedances of the aluminum limit in the mine’s effluent discharges into Sherman Creek, turbidity exceedances in construction storm water discharge into Johnson Creek and inadequate implementation of the mine’s storm water pollution prevention plan. These violations occurred largely in 2005. The mine currently is under construction and development as it prepares for active mining operations in 2007.

“The mining industry is an important part of Alaska’s economy,” said Kim Ogle, Manager of EPA’s Northwest Regional Office’s NPDES Compliance Unit. “But it must operate responsibly and manage its storm water discharge in a way that protects the environment.”

“We hope this settlement also sends the message statewide on the importance of protecting salmon supporting waters from construction related sediment discharges,” said Mike Bussell, Director of EPA's Office of Compliance & Enforcement in Seattle. “This is especially important in Alaska, considering how important the wild salmon fishery is to the State's economy. Addressing such violations continues to be a top priority for EPA in Alaska and nationally.”

To prevent further violations, Coeur Alaska hired a new erosion and sediment control consultant and has implemented new Best Management Practices to control storm water discharges from the mine’s construction site. In addition, Coeur Alaska installed advanced bag filter water control technology that provides enhanced removal of particulate aluminum from its waste water. “Once we brought these problems to the company’s attention, it acted quickly to fix the problems,” said Ogle.

As part of the settlement, Coeur will also provide $90,000 towards the acquisition of a piece of property containing valuable wetlands within the Strawberry Creek drainage near mile 25 Glacier Highway. The Southeast Alaska Land Trust will administer a conservation easement that will protect a complex drainage of fen, marsh, uplift meadow, ponds and riverine wetlands that support a variety of fauna and flora.

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