JUNEAU — The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency said it has reached a settlement with the operator of a gold mine near Juneau over alleged discharge and reporting violations.
Coeur Mining, which controls the Kensington Mine through Coeur Alaska, in a statement Tuesday said it had been cooperative in working with the EPA to resolve citations it characterized as related to "mostly old and technical compliance matters" and contended the EPA had painted the mine in an "inaccurate light."
Terms of the agreements call for Coeur Alaska to pay $534,500 for alleged discharge violations and a reporting failure associated with the mine. The agreements contain language stating Coeur Alaska neither confirms nor denies the claims outlined.
Chicago-based Coeur Mining said there were "good reasons" to contest many of the claims but said it agreed to a penalty "rather than incur the expense and distraction of years of litigation."
The EPA said the agreement resolves a series of alleged violations, including wastewater discharges and failure to conduct required monitoring, inspections and training.
The issues were discovered in 2015 during a joint inspection by the EPA and Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation, the Juneau Empire reported.
"Coeur Alaska's Kensington mine generates and manages large volumes of both wastewater and stormwater containing pollutants that can degrade water quality and seriously harm aquatic life," Ed Kowalski, EPA's Enforcement and Compliance Assurance Division director in Seattle, said in a release. He added later: "Coeur Alaska can and must do better in order to comply with our fundamental laws that protect people and the environment."
On Aug. 1, the state of Alaska modified the mine’s permit to authorize discharge of residual acid rock drainage into Lower Slate Lake, the EPA said. Coeur consented to ensuring the drainage will be collected and treated before being discharged into the lake.