On March 14, 2019, the Washington Court of Appeals Division III brought oral arguments in Crown vs Ecology to the Okanogan County Commissioners Hearing Room. The case, in which OHA is an intervener, began with Crown appealing the 2014 renewal of the discharge permit for the mine. After a seven-day trial-like hearing in January 2015, the Pollution Control Hearings Board, decided in favor of Ecology and OHA, affirming that the water surrounding the Buckhorn Mine must be left almost as clean as it was before mining. Crown appealed that decision to the Ferry County Superior Court where Crown also lost. Crown appealed to the Court of Appeal. Crown has asserted that the permit should be stayed (on hold) until the appeal process is exhausted. This assertion has been rejected in each stage of the appeal. While Ecology has issued Notices of Violation, the agency has not yet taken further enforcement action regarding the hundreds of violations.

Click here to listen to the recording of the arguments of this case, #351998.

Buckhorn Mine must leave the water as clean as it was prior to mining
Crown/Kinross gold mine on Buckhorn Mountain (Google Earth image)

On February 22, 2017, Ferry County Superior Court Judge Pat Monasmith denied Crown Resources/Kinross’ appeal of the Pollution Control Hearings Board (PCHB) July 30, 2015 decision, upholding the NPDES (National Pollution Discharge Elimination System) permit issued by Washington State Department of Ecology. This ruling affirms that the water surrounding the Buckhorn Mine must be left as clean as it was before the mine was developed. The Buckhorn Mine continues to discharge pollutants into the environment in violation of their waste discharge permit.

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Colorado is home to tens of thousands of abandoned mines. On August 5, 2015, people across the continent watched in disbelief as one of those mines, the Gold King, released over 3 million gallons of a mustard-colored concoction of heavy metals into the Animas River. 

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Due to the extensive violations of the Buckhorn gold mine’s Clean Water Act permit, the Washington State Department of Ecology (Ecology) issued an Administrative Order (AO) to Kinross Gold Corporation/Crown Resources Corporation (Crown/Kinross) on July 19, 2016. The AO requires an action plan to capture and treat contaminants emanating from the Buckhorn Mine.

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Water surrounding the Buckhorn Mine must be left as clean as it was prior to mining

On July 30, 2015, the Pollution Control Hearings Board (PCHB) denied Crown Resources/Kinross’ appeal of the NPDES (National Pollution Discharge Elimination System) permit, thereby affirming that the water surrounding the Buckhorn Mine must be left as clean as it was before the mine was developed. The Buckhorn Mine continues to discharge pollutants into the environment in violation of their waste discharge permit…

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