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EPA Reaches $29,000 Settlement with Meridian Beartrack Mine for Discharge Permit Violations

Release Date: 12/29/2005
Contact Information: Contact: Eva Chun 206-553-1970 Jeff Phillip 206-553-1465

December 29, 2005

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has reached a $29,000 agreement with Meridian Beartrack Corporation to resolve water discharge permit violations at the company’s mine site located near the historic town of Leesburg, Idaho.

The Beartrack Mine is a former open pit, cyanide heap leach gold mine which is undergoing final gold recovery, reclamation, and closure. Although all mine operations and gold production ceased in 2000, Meridian’s discharge permit authorizes the discharge of pollutants through an outfall pipe into Napias Creek, a tributary of Panther Creek and the Salmon River.

Permits like these are a key part of the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES), as administered by EPA. They give companies that discharge wastes into U.S. national waters strict limits as to how much and how often they can discharge specific kinds of pollutants.

According to Kim Ogle, EPA’s NPDES Compliance Unit Manager in Seattle, when Meridian violated interim mercury effluent limits in September and October, 2004, EPA needed to take action.

“Mercury is one of the most toxic pollutants in the environment,” said Ogle. “So companies that discharge even small amounts need to do whatever it takes to honor their permit limits, or face serious penalties. We’re pleased Meridian implemented new measures to ensure similar discharges don’t happen again.”

Immediately after the discovery of the violations, the Company installed additional filters and reconfigured their piping system at the site.

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