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Lawsuit Reopened Against Atlanta Gold Mine Over Boise River Pollution

Conservation groups have reopened a lawsuit against Atlanta Gold over discharges of arsenic into Boise River headwaters. (John Robison/Idaho Conservation League)
Conservation groups have reopened a lawsuit against Atlanta Gold over discharges of arsenic into Boise River headwaters. (John Robison/Idaho Conservation League)
November 4, 2016

BOISE, Idaho – Two conservation groups announced Thursday they are reopening a lawsuit against the Atlanta Gold Mine over discharges of arsenic into the headwaters of the Boise River from the company's mine near Atlanta, Idaho. The Idaho Conservation League and Northwest Environmental Defense Center say they have alerted the court to nearly 500 violations of the Clean Water Act since a U.S. District Court Judge ordered the company to clean up its act in 2013.

John Robison, public lands director at the Idaho Conservation League said the company hasn't followed the court's order.

"From monitoring records from the company itself, we have learned that arsenic violations have continued and that pollution continues to enter the Boise River headwaters in violation of the Clean Water Act," he said.

Arsenic is toxic to humans, especially to children, the elderly and pregnant women and is also bad for fish. Atlanta Gold CEO Ernie Simmons said it's not true that arsenic is getting into the Boise River from the mine. He said Atlanta Gold inherited the mines and has been working to make them operational.

Robison said if arsenic is getting into the river, that's a problem because it is a popular swimming spot and also supplies a portion of the city's drinking water.

"The Boise River provides more than 20 percent of the drinking-water supply for the city of Boise," he added. "Even though the mine itself is up in the headwaters, everything moves downstream, and the cleaner water we have to begin with, the better for everyone."

Through September, Robison said, Atlanta Gold was a half-million dollars behind on its scheduled penalty payment fines. Atlanta Gold CEO Simmons said fines have kept the company from developing proper treatment facilities to put the mine in compliance with the Clean Water Act.

Eric Tegethoff, Public News Service - ID