Mine penalized for hazardous waste management violations

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced today (April 11, 2023) that Northern Star (Pogo) L.L.C. was fined $600,000 for improper storage, treatment, and disposal of hazardous materials at its gold mine and laboratory in Delta Junction, Alaska.

“Strict accountability for hazardous waste is vital to protecting people and the environment at every step of the way,” said EPA Region 10 Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance Acting Director Stacy Murphy. “Companies are required to take responsibility for these materials for their entire lifespan and must be held accountable for failing to do so.”

Following an inspection in 2019, EPA cited Northern Star (Pogo) L.L.C. for 81 violations of the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act, including:

Failure to determine if waste from laboratory testing was hazardous waste.

Treatment, storage, and disposal of hazardous waste without a permit.

Storage in two unlabeled 762-gallon belowground tanks, which accumulated hazardous wastes from laboratory tests. The tanks did not meet design and installation requirements, and lacked both secondary containment and a leak detection system.

Disposal of about 364,450 tons of waste in the gold mine without proper treatment.

RCRA is designed to protect public health and the environment and avoid long and extensive cleanups by requiring the safe, environmentally sound storage and disposal of hazardous waste.

In addition to paying the $600,000 penalty, as part of the settlement the company will remove the tanks that held hazardous waste and clean up any contamination.