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Red Dog Mine operator to pay $120,000 penalty to EPA

Elizabeth Bluemink

Teck Alaska Inc., the operator of the Red Dog zinc and lead mine near Kotzebue, said Friday that it will pay a $120,000 federal fine after permit violations at the mine and its Chukchi Sea port.

The Environmental Protection Agency announced the fine Thursday and said Teck's violations occurred between 2004 and 2006.

A seven-day EPA inspection in 2006 led to the discovery of some violations, and the EPA first notified Teck about those violations last March, Teck said.

The first set of violations involved discharging clean water along with wastewater into nearby Red Dog Creek. Diluting the wastewater violated the mine's permit. Teck said that it believed the EPA had approved the discharge -- from a freshwater reservoir -- in 2004, but the misunderstanding "has now been clarified," the company said.

Teck said the other violations involved two accidental spills and a seven-day period in 2005 when snowmelt runoff overwhelmed the mine's treatment plant.

Teck Alaska is a subsidiary of Teck Cominco, a global mining firm based in British Columbia. Red Dog is the largest mine in Alaska, and it is on land owned by NANA Regional Corp., the regional Native corporation for Northwest Alaska.

Teck's deadline for paying the $120,000 is Oct. 4.

Find Elizabeth Bluemink online at adn.com/contact/ebluemink or call 257-4317.

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By ELIZABETH BLUEMINK
ebluemink@adn.com