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Alaska Mining Company Agrees to Pay $33,000 for Discharges to the Chukchi Sea

Release Date: 2/9/2005
Contact Information: Rob Grandinetti
grandinetti.rob@epamail.epa.gov
(206) 553-1283


February 9, 2005

The operators of the Red Dog Mine, the world’s largest lead and zinc mine, agreed to pay civil penalties totaling $33,000 to settle a U.S. Environmental Protection Agency complaint alleging the mine allowed ore from a conveyer belt to enter the Chukchi Sea, off the northwest coast of Alaska, on three occasions in August of 2002.

The settlement between the mine owner, Teck Cominco Alaska, Inc. and the EPA was announced today by Kim Ogle, Water Compliance Manager for the agency’s regional office in Seattle.

“The complaint followed an investigation into an employee’s reports of ore falling off a conveyer belt into the sea,” said Ogle. “Sometimes our best leads come from people in the community who observe activities that don’t look right.”

Following review of company records and a video tape supplied by the employee, the agency alleged that discharges occurred three times in August of 2002. Teck Cominco has a wastewater discharge permit for the Red Dog facility, but the permit does not allow discharges of ore from the conveyor belt.

The company invested over $11 million in a containment system for the conveyer the following year to avoid future discharges into the water.
In 1997, Teck Cominco agreed to pay a penalty of $1.7 million, and make certain facility improvements costing approximately $3 million, in order to settle a prior EPA enforcement action that was based on numerous Clean Water Act violations from 1990 through 1993.

In reaching the settlement, Teck Cominco neither admitted nor denied the allegations made by the EPA.


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