Department of Ecology News Release - April 28, 2009

09-092

Buckhorn gold mine fined $40,000 for violating water quality permit

YAKIMA – Crown Resources Corp. has been fined $40,000 for violating its water quality permit at the Buckhorn Mountain gold mine near Republic, Wash., in Okanogan County.

The Washington Department of Ecology (Ecology) has cited the company for failing to adequately capture and treat water from the mine operation, violating the company’s NPDES (National Pollutant Discharge Elimination) permit. The mine discharges treated mine water and stormwater to both surface and groundwater, including Gold Bowl, Nicholson, and Marias creeks.

Ecology’s interpretation of data indicates seepage from the mine workings has been detected in groundwater monitoring wells, and stream samples and springs downstream from the mine.

Under the permit, the company is required to capture and route water from the underground mine to a treatment plant before discharging it to waters of the state.

Crown Resources was cited for failing to establish and maintain a groundwater “capture zone” and for failing to report and respond in a timely manner. The violation occurred over a 10-month period from June 2008 to April 2009.

Crown Resources has been ordered to take action to come into compliance with the NPDES permit. Action items include:

Crown Resources has 30 days to pay the penalty or file an appeal of the penalty with the state Pollution Control Hearings Board.

More information on the NPDES permit is available at the Ecology Web site: www.ecy.wa.gov/programs/wq/permits/central_permits.html

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Media Contact:
Joye Redfield-Wilder, communications manager, 509-575-2610; jred461@ecy.wa.gov
Bob Raforth, Water Quality specialist, 509-457-7113