SEATTLE, WA, May 17, 2011 -- U.S. Silver Corporation, which owns and operates the Coeur and Galena Mines and Mills near Wallace in Idaho's "Silver Valley," has agreed to pay $87,000 in penalties to settle federal Clean Water Act discharge violations.
The agreement between EPA and U.S. Silver resolves the company's National Pollution Discharge Elimination System permit violations and unpermitted discharges at the mines and mills that occurred from 2008 to 2010.
U.S. Silver's violations included unpermitted discharges of mine tailings and exceedances of the NPDES permit's effluent limits for copper, lead, and mercury.
Edward Kowalski, Director of EPA's Office of Compliance and Enforcement in Seattle, said discharge violations in the Silver Valley are especially troubling. "The South Fork Coeur d'Alene River and its tributary streams are struggling to recover from a century of mine waste discharge," he said. "Companies need to ensure that they are not only meeting their permit obligations, but also investing in their plant and equipment to protect Idaho's rivers and streams for future generations."
In addition to the monetary penalty, U.S. Silver recently made structural improvements to its tailings pipelines to reduce risk of future spills, and encouraged employees to become more vigilant in preventing and reporting accidental spills.