EARTHWORKS

60 day notice to sue Queenstake Resources

60 day notice to sue Queenstake Resources
For violating the Emergency Planning and Community Right to Know Act by underreporting mercury releases to the TRI

Published: June 11, 2007

By: EARTHWORKS, Great Basin Mine Watch, Idaho Conservation League

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June 11, 2007

Queenstake Resources USA, Inc.
Jerritt Canyon Mine
HC 31, Box 78
Elko, NV 89801

Queenstake Resources USA, Inc.
c/o The Corporation Trust Company of Nevada
6100 Neil Road, Suite 500
Reno, NV 89511

Re: Mercury Emission Reporting Violations

Dear Queenstake Resources USA:

I write on behalf of Idaho Conservation League, Earthworks, and Great Basin Mine Watch to advise you of our concern over compliance with certain federal toxic chemical reporting requirements at Queenstake Resources USA's Jerritt Canyon Mine ("Jerritt Canyon").

Under Section 313 of the Emergency Planning and Community Right to Know Act ("EPCRA"), Jerritt Canyon is required to annually file reports to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (standard Form R) stating your releases of mercury and other toxic chemicals to the environment.  42 U.S.C. § 11023.    Mercury is a potent neurotoxin, causing significant neurological and developmental problems such as attention and language deficits, impaired memory and impaired vision and motor function.

The following table summarizes Jerritt Canyon's reported releases of mercury to the air (in pounds) on its Form R for each year:

Year
Fugitive Emissions
Stack Emissions
2005
0
381
2004
1
461
2003
0
790
2002
1
4,740
2001
1
7,990
2000
1
6,700
1999
0
9,400
1998
0
9,400

Jerritt Canyon's Form R submissions for each of these reporting years under-report the actual levels of mercury air emissions generated at its facility.   In October 2006, Jerritt Canyon performed stack testing in order to speciate mercury emissions and quantify total mercury emissions.  That effort resulted in an estimated total of 1.218 pounds of mercury emissions per hour of roaster and carbon kiln/refinery operation.  We are aware that in 2004 Jerritt Canyon processed approximately 1.3 million tons of ore over 7,678 hours of east roaster operation and 7,650 of west roaster operation.   In 2006, Jerritt Canyon processed approximately 974,000 tons of ore, reflecting reduced hours of operation.   We therefore estimate that Jerritt Canyon's mercury emissions in 2006 totaled about 7000 pounds, and fully expect Jerritt Canyon will comply with EPCRA in preparing its mercury Form R report from the 2006 reporting year.   In addition, of great concern to my clients is high level of oxidized mercury emitted from Jerritt Canyon, because oxidized mercury readily deposits to nearby lands and waters.

The 2006 stack test data further demonstrates that Jerritt Canyon's Form R reports for the 2002 through 2005 reporting years violated EPCRA.   In light of Jerritt Canyon's obvious knowledge of the scope of its mercury emissions from 1998 through 2001 as reflected in its Form R reports for those years, Jerritt Canyon's under-reporting of emissions in 2002 through 2005 appears to amount to a deliberate effort to deceive regulators and the public of the true amount of mercury emissions from the facility.   Indeed, we are also aware that Jerritt Canyon is subject to a pending enforcement action by the Nevada Division of Environmental Protection concerning, in part, Jerritt Canyon's bypassing of its air pollution control devices.

In sum, Jerritt Canyon has violated Section 313 of EPCRA and federal regulations promulgated thereunder by failing to submit complete Form R's in each reporting year from 2002 through 2005, specifying the total amount of mercury air emissions at the Jerritt Canyon facility.    

EPCRA authorizes citizen suits against any person for failure to "complete and submit" Form R reports as required by Section 313 of EPCRA.  42 U.S.C. § 11046(a)(1)(A)(iv).  In addition to injunctive and other relief such as an award of attorney fees and costs, penalties of up to $27,500 per day per violation (for violations before March 15, 2004) and $32,500 per day per violation (for more recent violations) may be imposed against Jerritt Canyon for violating EPCRA.   69 Fed.Reg. 7121 (Feb.13, 2004).  This letter constitutes the required 60-day notice of our intent to file suit.

During the sixty (60) day notice period, we will be available to discuss effective remedies and actions which will assure Jerritt Canyon's future compliance with the EPCRA issues raised in this notice letter, as well as potential settlement of the issues raised herein.  In addition, we welcome discussion about whatever facts you believe relevant which are not itemized in this notice letter.  If you wish to avail yourself of this opportunity, or if you have any question regarding this letter, please do not hesitate to contact me at the address listed on our letterhead.  I can also be reached at my Oregon number, which is (503) 542-5245.  Alternatively, you may contact my clients at the following addresses:

Bonnie Gestring
EARTHWORKS
P.O. Box 8383
Missoula, MT 59807
406-549-7361
Dan Randolph
Great Basin Mine Watch
85 Keystone Ave., Suite K
Reno, NV 89503
775-348-1986
Justin Hayes
Idaho Conservation League
P.O. Box 844
Boise, ID 83701
208-345-6933

Sincerely,

__________________________
William M. Eddie
Of counsel, Advocates for the West

cc:

Administrator Stephen Johnson
Environmental Protection Agency
Ariel Rios Building
1200 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W.
Washington, DC 20460

Wayne Nastri
Region 9 Administrator
Environmental Protection Agency
75 Hawthorne Street
San Francisco, CA, 94105

Governor Jim Gibbons
Capitol Building
Carson City, NV 89701

Tagged with: tri, queenstake resources, mercury

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