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EPA Releases Two Revised Discharge Permits for Coeur Galena & Lucky Friday Mines

Release Date: 1/6/2003
Contact Information: Patricia McGrath
(206) 553-0979

January 6, 2003

Agency Seeks Public Comments on Changes

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has released two (2) revised draft National Pollution Discharge Elimination System(NPDES) permits for mining and milling operations that discharge wastewater to the South Fork Coeur d=Alene River and a tributary (Lake Creek). These permits are being proposed for the Coeur Galena and Lucky Friday mines in the Idaho Panhandle’s Silver Valley.

NPDES permits are required under the Clean Water Act for all point sources that discharge pollutants into waters of the United States. These permits will update the facilities’ expired permits.

“Two sets of discharge limits are included in the revised permits; one set based on current Idaho Clean Water Act criteria and one set based on the recently state adopted site-specific criteria,” said Randy Smith, EPA water quality director in Seattle. “We’re optimistic that we will be able to approve site-specific criteria and use those limits in the final permits. These criteria were developed to more accurately reflect local conditions in the South Fork Coeur d’Alene River"

Draft permits were previously released for public comment in March 2001. Subsequently, the Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) for the Coeur d=Alene River Basin, upon which some of the permit discharge limits were based, was declared null and void by an Idaho state court. Therefore, revised draft permits were prepared with new discharge limits no longer based on the TMDL. The new limits in the revised draft permits also take into consideration comments, new data, and information received since the 2001 draft permits were developed.

Public Hearing Scheduled

In addition, EPA has prescheduled a public hearing on February 6, 2003, beginning at 6:00 p.m. at Silver Hills Middle School in Osburn, Idaho. A sign-in process will be used for people wishing to make a statement or submit written comments at the hearing.

Written comments should be submitted by February 25, 2003.

EPA will consider all comments before issuing the final permits. All comments that were submitted during the earlier comment period in 2001 will continue to be a part of the record for these permits. Therefore, EPA suggests that commenters now focus on the changes between the 2001 draft permits and the revised draft permits. The primary changes are the discharge limits; all changes are highlighted in the revised draft permits. Comments should be addressed to: Office of Water Director at U.S. EPA, Region 10, 1200 Sixth Avenue, OW-130, Seattle, WA 98101.

After the public comment period, EPA will prepare a response to public comments, make appropriate changes, and submit the proposed final permits to the state for its final certification. EPA will respond to all comments received during the 2001 comment period and the current comment period.
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