Case Summary: EPA Awarded $4.5 Million Judgment for Cleanup Work Conducted at Mine Sites in Idaho
On July 14, 2014, the Idaho District Court ruled in favor of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the U.S. Forest Service (USFS) in an action brought to recover costs they incurred while cleaning up mine sites in Idaho. EPA is currently pursuing collection of the judgment from liable parties, which will reimburse EPA and the USFS $4.5 million for cleanup work performed under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA) at the Minnie Moore Mine and the Conjecture Mine sites in Idaho.
- Information about the Parties
- Information about the Sites
- Pollutants and Environmental Effects
- Summary of the Court Judgment
- Contact Information
Information about the Parties
Federal Resources Corporation (FRC) is now a shell corporation with limited assets including an inactive former gold mining property in Colorado referred to as Camp Bird Mine. FRC transferred ownership of the Camp Bird Mine property to the Trust of Bentley Blum. Further inquiry showed that Bentley Blum was also the sole owner of FRC.
Information about the sites
The Minnie Moore Mine Site presently consists of the 6-acre tailings pile, as well as the remains of the former mill and shop, and a still intact bunkhouse. In 1964, FRC constructed a 250 tons per day flotation mill to reprocess tailings at the site. Tailing reprocessing took place in 1964 and 1965.
The Conjecture Mine site is located in Bonner County, Idaho and is near the headwaters of Gold Creek which flows through the site. Mining began at the site sometime after 1894 and continued periodically until 1963. Mining took place underground on a patented claim and on nearby national forest system land.
Pollutants and environmental effects
At the Minnie Moore site, lead concentrations in tailing pile soils ranged from 1,400 to 18,500 milligrams per kilogram, or parts per million. Other metals in the tailings with concentrations significantly above background levels and which exceed preliminary remediation goals include arsenic, cadmium and manganese.
At the Conjecture Mine, waste rock and mill tailings were left on both the public and private lands. Several large waste rock dumps are scattered throughout the site. Arsenic, lead and manganese are the main contaminants of concern in the soils and sediments.
Summary of the Court Judgment
The Idaho District Court held that FRC, the Trust of Bentley Blum, and Bentley Blum were liable under CERCLA as owners/operators of the mining sites, and ordered the parties to pay all of EPA and USFS's cleanup costs, which totaled $4.5 million. Some of the parties have appealed this ruling to the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, and litigation is ongoing. EPA is currently trying to collect the $4.5 million judgment directly from the parties, and through bankruptcy proceedings.
For information contact
Associate Regional Counsel
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
1200 6th Avenue, Seattle, WA 98101