Department of Ecology News Release - February 28, 2014

14-037

Water quality permit issued for Okanogan County gold mine

YAKIMA – An updated wastewater discharge permit issued to the Buckhorn Mine in Okanogan County will better protect water quality and help correct environmental problems that have challenged the mine since operations began in 2007.

The Washington Department of Ecology issued the updated water quality permit to Crown Resources, which operates the gold mine near Chesaw, following negotiations with the company and environmental interests. The permit takes effect March 1.

Under the new permit, the mining company has until the end of 2014 to comply with more protective standards. The updated permit authorizes new outfalls where the mine can discharge treated water from its wastewater treatment plant back to the environment.

Treated water from the mine can be discharged to surface waters in Gold Bowl Creek, Nicholson Creek and Marias Creek. Untreated non-industrial stormwater can be discharged to the ground, in compliance with Ecology’s water quality standards.

The permit also requires the mine to correct failures to capture and contain contaminants from the mine that resulted in a penalty in 2012.

Known as a federal National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System permit (NPDES), the permit is required for the mine’s operation and complies with the federal Clean Water Act and the state’s water pollution control laws

Ecology received comments from 77 individuals, groups and agencies while drafting the permit and has prepared a summary addressing those comments. The permit, fact sheet and response to comments may be viewed at the Ecology website:  https://fortress.wa.gov/ecy/wqreports/public/f?p=110:302:0::NO:RP,302::

To obtain copies of the permit and related documents or to arrange to view copies, please call Roger Johnson at 509-454-7658, e-mail roger.johnson@ecy.wa.gov, or write to: Cindy Huwe, Department of Ecology, Central Regional Office, 15 W. Yakima Ave., Suite 200; Yakima, WA  98902. E-mail requests to cynthia.huwe@ecy.wa.gov.

# # #

Media Contacts:

Joye Redfield-Wilder, 509-575-2610; joye.redfield-wilder@ecy.wa.gov; @ecycentral

For more information:

Penalty news release (www.ecy.wa.gov/news/2012/240.html)

Ecology’s social media (www.ecy.wa.gov/about/newmedia.html)