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Alaska Gold settles over Clean Water Act violations at Nome mine

Alaska Dispatch

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has announced that the Alaska Gold Company has paid a $177,500 fine for allegedly violating the EPA's Clean Water Act at Rock Creek Mine, about 6 miles north of Nome, on the Seward Peninsula in western Alaska. The settlement follows the EPA's claim that the company violated permit requirements for controlling stormwater pollution during construction.

Both the EPA and the Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation inspected the mine between June 2009 and September 2011. According to an EPA press release, the inspections led to the discovery of federal construction regulation infringements in regard to stormwater management. In addition to the infringements, the Alaska Gold Company had previously failed to implement acceptable Stormwater Pollution Prevention Plan for the mine.

The manager of EPA's Clean Water Act Compliance Unit, Jeff KenKnight said:

Polluted runoff can damage important habitat and harm Alaska’s natural resources. Companies need to plan for and manage stormwater runoff from their construction sites, and investing the time and energy upfront is always better than repairing damage and paying penalties later.

The mine is situated near Rock and Lindblom creeks, both tributaries of the Snake River, which flows into the Bering Sea. Pollution of tributary water sources could have repercussions for the entire area, EPA noted.

In addition to paying the fine, Alaska Gold Company has submitted an upgraded Stormwater Pollution Prevention Plan and is attempting to restore any damage.

Read the EPA's announcement here.