Lower Slate Lake in Alaska, before the
Kensington Gold Mine's waste dumping and after.
(Photo Credits: Before: Irene Alexakos.
After: Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation.)
Aerial photos of Lower Slate Lake before and after the Kensington Gold Mine's dumping of mining waste. (Photo Credits: Before: Pat Costello, courtesy of LightHawk.)
In issuing a permit for a gold mine, the Army Corps of Engineers considered the mine’s chemically processed, toxic mine waste to be “fill material” under the Clean Water Act, bypassing strict EPA limits for this type of pollution. As a result, millions of tons of mine waste will be dumped into a pristine sub-alpine lake in Southeast Alaska, killing all fish and aquatic life in the lake.
In March 2007, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeal announced that the permit to allow the mine waste to be dumped in the lake was illegal and would be struck down. On October 29, 2007, the same court—in this case, all 27 active judges—refused to reconsider the decision made in March.
In a 6–3 decision on June 22, 2009, the U.S. Supreme Court reversed the decision of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeal. The mine is now operating and dumping its waste in the lake, but Earthjustice and others are working to change agency rules to avoid this result in the future.
Monday, June 22, 2009
Decision bodes ill for other American lakes, invites Administrative or Congressional fix
Monday, January 12, 2009
Will mining company be allowed to bury lake in wastes?
Friday, June 27, 2008
Court decision will clarify whether mining companies may bury clean lakes, rivers and streams with mine tailings
Wednesday, May 14, 2008
Alaskan mining company seeks permit to destroy lake with mine waste
Friday, November 2, 2007
Clean Water Act preserved as Ninth Circuit protects lake from mine tailings
Tuesday, May 22, 2007
Mining company proposed to destroy Alaskan lake and eviscerate the Clean Water Act
Saturday, March 17, 2007
Federal court says Army Corps violated Act by letting mine kill Alaska lake
Monday, December 4, 2006
Is toxic water allowed by Clean Water Act?
Thursday, August 24, 2006
Allows other mining activities to proceed
Monday, September 12, 2005
Mine waste disposal sets precedent for new way to pollute Alaska's waters