(Seattle – Sept 2012) The Alaska Gold Company has paid a penalty for alleged Clean Water Act violations at the Rock Creek mine near Nome, Alaska. According to a settlement announced today by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the company allegedly violated permit requirements for controlling storm water pollution during construction activities.
In addition to paying a $177,500 penalty, the company has already taken corrective actions to comply by submitting and implementing an upgraded Stormwater Pollution Prevention Plan and reclaiming a portion of the area disturbed during construction.
Jeff KenKnight, Manager at EPA's Clean Water Act Compliance Unit in Seattle. said:
"Polluted runoff can damage important habitat and harm Alaska's natural resources. Companies need to plan for and manage stormwater runoff from their construction sites, and investing the time and energy upfront is always better than repairing damage and paying penalties later."
EPA and the Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation performed six inspections at the mine between June 2009 and September 2011, which revealed numerous alleged violations of federal construction stormwater regulations.
Infractions included drainage channels without rock armoring, creating bank erosion, and undercutting and sloughing of channel sidewalls. Inspectors also noted areas where proper erosion control measures were not installed or maintained, which caused the discharge of large amounts of silt and sediment to Rock Creek and Lindblom Creek.
The company also failed to create, maintain, and implement an adequate Stormwater Pollution Prevention Plan that met all requirements of the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System General Permit for Storm Water Discharges from Construction Activities.
Both Rock Creek and Lindblom Creek are tributaries to the Snake River, which enters the Bering Sea near Nome.