- Associated Press - Saturday, June 7, 2014

ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) - The owners of a Northwest Alaska mine will pay an $8 million fine rather than build a pipeline that would have moved treated wastewater past a village to the Chukchi Sea.

The decision stems from a 2008 settlement for alleged violations of the federal Clean Water Act. The agreement required Red Dog Mine operator Teck Resources Ltd., to build a pipeline or pay a fine.

Effluent from the zinc and lead mine is deposited in the Red Dog Creek. The creek flows into the Wulik River, which supplies water to Kivalina, a village of about 370 people 70 miles west of the mine.

Mine officials explored multiple options, but none of them were feasible, Red Dog Mine spokesman Wayne Hall told the Anchorage Daily News (https://bit.ly/1kUJPe1 ).

The company was not able to construct an underground water pipeline because there is too much ground movement in the area due to permafrost, Hall said. An above-ground pipeline had its challenges as well. Hall said it would need to be at least 7 feet tall in order to protect migrating caribou. That made for high costs, with a projected price tag of about $216 million.

“Ultimately, we decided there just wasn’t any increased benefit,” Hall said.

The effluent discharged into Red Dog Creek “is protective of human health,” he said, and the creek has seen environmental improvements since the mine began treating its effluent.

Native Village of Kivalina President Millie Hawley said the decision is disappointing.

“(The pipeline) would have been an ideal solution to our concerns that we have voiced over the past 25 years,” she said.

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Information from: Anchorage (Alaska) Daily News, https://www.adn.com

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