- Associated Press - Wednesday, April 20, 2016

BOISE, Idaho (AP) - Two environmental groups say they’ve told a Canadian mining company they plan to take legal action based on records showing the company continues to pollute the Boise River system despite a federal court order to stop.

The Idaho Conservation League and the Northwest Environmental Defense Center earlier this week informed Atlanta Gold Corporation of their intent to reopen the court case due to continued violations of the court order and the Clean Water Act.

A federal court in 2012 penalized the company $2 million for its failure to follow clean water laws and not doing enough to staunch the flow of arsenic and iron into a tributary of the Boise River.

Justin Hayes of the Idaho Conservation League said the groups didn’t act sooner because the company installed equipment and stopped the flow of pollution after the court order. Over the years, he said, problems would occur that resulted in pollution again entering the river.

“By giving them this much time, what it demonstrated is they’re not really making a commitment to clean water,” Hayes said. “I think, frankly, this is not a priority for them.”

Atlanta Gold didn’t immediately respond for a request for comment from The Associated Press on Wednesday.

The company as part of its permit must report discharges into the Boise River system to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. The federal agency on its website shows the company since 2012 has reported multiple violations of the permit due to high levels of arsenic.

The company obtained an interest in the site in 1985 and for years has conducted exploratory drilling and excavation, but has yet to extract and process any gold. As part of its exploration process, the company reopened 200 feet of a mine adit first drilled in 1917.

The timing for when the environmental groups might take legal action isn’t clear.

“It kind of depends on if and when we hear back from Atlanta Gold,” said Bryan Hurlbutt, an attorney with Advocates for the West, representing the environmental groups. “I’d think within the next couple months we’d want to get this going if it looks like things aren’t being addressed adequately.”

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