State, Red Dog mine owner reach settlement on air permit violations

Posted: Wednesday, December 19, 2001

ANCHORAGE (AP) -- Teck Cominco Alaska has agreed to pay up to $827,000 to settle government claims that the company violated its air emissions permit at the Red Dog Mine.

Teck Cominco will pay the state $300,000 in cash. Another $278,900 will be spent on three projects to improve the mine's environmental performance and better protect public health and the environment.

The remaining portion of the settlement, $248,100, will be suspended if Teck Cominco meets terms of the settlement.

''Alaska's permitting system places a large responsibility upon the company to self-monitor and report problems and to immediately take corrective action,'' said Michele Brown, commissioner of the Department of Environmental Conservation. ''When the Red Dog Mine operators fail to do so, they also fail to meet the community's and our expectations for operating in full compliance.''

The agreement stems from a joint inspection by the DEC and the federal Environmental Protection Agency in the fall 2000 that found 18 potential violations of Teck Cominco's air permit at the mine 90 miles north of Kotzebue. The violations included operating and failing to properly report equipment that exceeded emission limits, including heaters, diesel generators and crushers, and failure to conduct monitoring.

As part of the agreement, Teck Cominco will donate $230,000 to the NANA Regional Subsistence Advisory Committee to help assess subsistence needs in the area and the potential impact of the mine.

A certified inspector will conduct a survey of Kivalina's drinking water system. Residents have been concerned that mine operations have affected water quality.

Air quality monitoring will be done in Noatak and Kivalina for a year to measure breathable airborne particulate. The samples will be analyzed for any lead particles that may be coming from Red Dog operations.

The settlement also addresses truck spills of ore concentrate along the haul road from the mine to the port. Teck Cominco will come up with new procedures for hauling ore along the road within 60 days.

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