Technical Contact: John Elling, (651) 282-9885
Toll-free (all staff, voice and TTY): (800) 657-3864
Duluth, Minn. - The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) seeks public comment by Oct. 7, 2005, on the final Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for U.S. Steel-Minntac's proposed tailings basin wastewater discharge expansion plan in Mountain Iron.
U.S. Steel-Minntac mines and processes taconite at its Mountain Iron facility. Water used in ore processing is discharged to a tailings storage and disposal basin north of the facility. The facility's National Pollution Discharge Elimination System permit allows basin discharge water to either be recycled back to the processing plant or allowed to seep into the Dark River and Sandy River watersheds.
The MPCA completed an EIS in April 2005. An EIS is an extensive environmental review which describes how the facility would continue to use the basin for tailings disposal, discharge wastewater at a higher rate, and siphon some of the water to the nearby watersheds.
The proposal reviewed in the EIS incorporates an engineered siphon system which would increase the water discharge rate to approximately 5,000 gallons of water per minute - or 2.6 billion gallons annually - from the storage basin into one or both watersheds.
The EIS also evaluated related technologies and process modifications to determine whether current water-quality monitoring requirements and conditions would be affected by the proposed siphoning system. U.S. Steel-Minntac is currently required to monitor the discharges for sulfate, hardness, chloride and other water quality measures.
MPCA staff have been working with U.S. Steel-Minntac on developing and completing the EIS since 2001. Several issues specified in the draft EIS's Final Scoping document were presented to the public at an April 2005 meeting in Virginia. The MPCA has since responded to public comments about the draft EIS. Comments received during this period can address all aspects of the final EIS.
Copies of the EIS are available for review at public libraries in Mountain Iron, Eveleth, Virginia, Hibbing, Duluth and Minneapolis, as well as the MPCA's Duluth office at 525 Lake Avenue South, Suite 400. The document is also available on the MPCA's Web site at/news/eaw/index.html. To receive a copy of the EIS on paper or compact disk, or for more information about the proposed plan, contact John Elling at (651) 282-9885 or (800) 657-3864.
Written comments must be submitted no later than Oct. 7, 2005, to John Elling, Project Manager, MPCA, 520 Lafayette Road North, St. Paul, MN 55155, by e-mail to email@example.com or faxed to him at (651) 297-2343. It's expected the final EIS will be brought before the MPCA Citizens' Board in November for a decision on its adequacy.
For more information about the proposed plan, contact John Elling, Project Manager, at (651) 282-9885. He can be reached toll-free at (800) 657-3864.