Wash. Mine Fined For Water Quality Violations

Jul 20, 2012

The Department of Ecology has fined a gold mine in northeastern Washington for water quality violations. The company plans to appeal the fines. The mine has faced numerous penalties over the past five years.

The Buckhorn Mountain Mine is required to capture and treat polluted wastewater. But for the past two years, according the Department of Ecology, the water storage area has overflowed during spring snowmelts. That’s caused a landslide and increased levels of nitrates and acidity in a nearby creek.

Joye Redfield-Wilder is with the Department of Ecology. She says parent company Kinross Gold maintains that it has a water treatment plan in place. But, Redfield-Wilder says, the plan will not work if storage areas cannot hold enough water.

Redfield-Wilder: “They need to have built-in additional capacity. If we had an extreme water year, there will be more polluted water.”

The $395,000 assessment is the largest water quality fine for the company. For its part, though, parent company Kinross Gold says the landslide happened during heavy rainfall. The company says it has doubled its treatment capacity in the past year.

Copyright 2012 Northwest News Network

On the Web:

Dept. of Ecology press release:

Kettle River-Buckhorn operation: