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Wisconsin Public Radio, July 26, 2012

Judge says Flambeau Mining Violated Clean Water Act, Issues Minimal Fine

By Rich Kremer

Click here to listen to the broadcast.

A federal judge says runoff from the Flambeau mine site in Ladysmith violated the Clean Water Act. The decision also commends Flambeau Mining Company for its cleanup efforts.

The decision is based on a 2011 lawsuit brought by the Wisconsin Resources Protection Council, Center for Biological Diversity and Laura Gauger. It alleges that runoff from the reclaimed mine leaked toxic levels of copper into a settling pond that overflowed into a stream, eventually emptying into the Flambeau River. Jamie Saul is an attorney representing the environmental groups. He says the judge’s finding that the mine — closed for nearly 15 years — is still leaching heavy metals, speaks to the dangers of metallic and sulfide mining. “Other mining companies have pointed specifically to the Flambeau Mine as sort of a poster child of sound and responsible environmental reclamation, but even this mine that’s purportedly the poster child has had ongoing discharges for a number of years at levels that were exceeding the toxicity standards.”

Despite the violation of the Clean Water Act, the judge says it was not serious in nature and only issued a pro forma penalty on Flambeau Mining, worth $275. She also commended the company for its ongoing efforts to contain and treat storm water runoff from the site. Flambeau Mining Company Spokesman Kris Naidl says they’re pleased with the ruling: “The judge made it very clear that we were in full compliance with our state permit and that we were following the directive of the state DNR to obtain that permit for our storm water management.”

Naidl says Flambeau Mining installed an additional runoff filtration system this year to keep copper or other pollutants from reaching the river.

Copyright © 2012 WPRNews.org.

This article originally appeared here.

Photo © Paul S. Hamilton