Media contact: Steve Mikkelson, (218) 855 5001
Duluth, Minn. -- Northshore Mining Co. recently paid a $37,287 civil penalty for four alleged landfill leachate discharge violations and is in the process of amending its permit to construct a new discharge system, the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) announced today. Northshore will also be required to pay a penalty of $10,000 per event should leachate overflows occur in the future.
Northshore Mining Co., a subsidiary of Cleveland-Cliffs, Inc., operates a state-permitted industrial waste landfill in Silver Bay, Minn. The permit allows the landfill to accept waste ash and demolition debris generated by Northshore's mining operations. It also specifies that leachate, produced when rainfall migrates through the landfill into a lined collection system, be disposed of at a wastewater-treatment facility.
Between November 2005 and October 2007, four unpermitted discharges of leachate occurred after heavy rains and spring thaw conditions. During the Oct. 7, 2007 occurrence, 20.000 to 50.000 gallons of leachate were released into water bodies flowing to the East Branch of the Beaver River or into the company's Mile Post 7 tailings basin.
The company has submitted plans to construct a new leachate collection and discharge system. Upon approval by the MPCA, Northshore will be required to complete all construction by Oct. 1, 2008.
Stipulation agreements such as this are one of the tools the MPCA uses to achieve compliance with environmental laws. When calculating penalties, the MPCA takes into account how seriously the violation affected the environment, whether it is a first-time or repeat violation, and how promptly the violation was reported to appropriate authorities. It also attempts to recover the calculated economic benefit gained by failure to comply with environmental laws in a timely manner. For a comprehensive list of enforcement actions by the MPCA, go to the agency Web site at http://www.state.mn.us/newscenter/enforcement.html.
For more information on landfill-related permits, call Heidi Kroening, MPCA solid waste supervisor, at (218) 723 4795 or toll-free at (800) 657-3864 or visit the agency's Web site at http://www.pca.state.mn.us.