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Mine Fined $40k for Water Quality Violation

Ten days after issuing an administrative order determining that Crown Resources has violated their NPDES (National Pollutant Discharge Elimination Permit), on April 27, 2009 the Department of Ecology informed them that a civil penalty of $40,000 was due within 30 days. While the computation for the penalty actually came to $1,216,000 discretion was applied since it was Crown’s first violation and the penalty is not intended to be punitive in nature. According to the recommendation for enforcement action, “Penalties are intended to change the behavior of the violator, penalize the violator for permit exceedances and act as a deterrent.” The enforcement recommendation goes on to say, “This was the first documented violation of this type at the Buckhorn Mine. The fact that this was a first time violation leads us to issue a penalty on the low end of penalty possibilities, but does not excuse the company from receiving a penalty because of the seriousness of the violation. We cannot down play the seriousness of the violation committed by Crown. Failure of the required capture zone released a plume of contaminated ground water that has affected groundwater quality and surface water quality. The concentration, extent and ultimate impact of the plume on ground water and surface water is only partly documented from the existing monitoring network. Exceedances of groundwater or surface water quality criteria pose a risk to public health and the environment. 

April 2009