The Associated Press: Court OKs dumping gold mine waste in lake
- A mining company was given the go-ahead by the Supreme Court on Monday to dump waste from an Alaskan gold mine into a nearby 23-acre lake, although the material will kill all of the lake's fish.
The court said that the federal government acted legally in declaring the waste left after metals are extracted from the ore as "fill material" allowing a federal permit without meeting more stringent requirements from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency under the Clean Water Act.
Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin called the decision "great news for Alaska" and said it "is a green light for responsible resource development." The Kensington gold mine 45 miles north of Juneau will produce as many as 370 jobs when it begins operation.
But environmentalists feared the ruling could lead to a broader easing of requirements on how companies dispose of their mining waste.
"If a mining company can turn Lower Slate Lake in Alaska into a lifeless waste dump, other polluters with solids in their water can potentially do the same to any water body in America," said Trip Van Noppen, president of Earthjustice, which had participated in the litigation.