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Alaska placer miner settles EPA Clean Water Act discharge violations

Release Date: 02/28/2011
Contact Information: Mark MacIntyre/EPA/Public Affairs/206-553-7302/ Eva DeMaria/EPA/NPDES-Compliance Officer/ 206-553-1970/

(Seattle, Washington – February 28, 2011) Mr. Samuel Turner, of Trapper Creek, Alaska, has agreed to pay the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency a $8,000 penalty to resolve a CWA violation at his placer mine, near Petersville, Alaska. Mr. Turner’s agreement with EPA, called a Consent Agreement and Final Order (CAFO) covers a violation at a placer mine he operated along Spruce and Cache Creeks in the Yentna Mining District.

According to Edward Kowalski, director of EPA’s Regional Office of Compliance and Enforcement, whether for business or recreation, placer mining must be done responsibly.

“We know people enjoy placer mining for fun and profit, but Alaskan waters must be protected,” said EPA’s Kowalski. “Sediment from wash water can harm fish and their habitat if it enters rivers, lakes and streams. Protecting water quality needs to be top priority wherever and whenever mining happens.”

During an overflight of Mr. Turner’s placer mining operations in July 2010, inspectors documented the operator’s failure to retain wash plant wastewaters which were allowed to enter a ditch that was directly connected to Spruce Creek. Mr. Turner is covered under the Alaska General Permit for Mechanical Placer Miners for discharges into Cache Creek, not Spruce Creek, so this discharge violated Mr. Turner’s permit.