- Associated Press - Saturday, June 4, 2016

GREAT FALLS, Mont. (AP) - The Montana Department of Environmental Quality is asking a bankruptcy court to set aside more than $6 million from the owner of a Fergus County gold mine to ensure treatment of polluted water after the state said it does not have enough cash for the cleanup effort.

Colorado-based Atna Resources Inc. and six affiliates - Atna Resources Ltd., Canyon Resources Corp., CR Briggs Corp., CR Kendall Corp., CR Montana Corp. and Horizon Wyoming Uranium Inc. - filed for bankruptcy protection in Colorado in 2015.

The CR Kendall Mine is an open pit gold mine that closed in 1997. The company could not be reached Saturday for comment.

Mines are required to provide a bond for cleanup, but Montana officials say they need more money from the bankruptcy court to cover cleanup costs.

The department filed the latest claim with the court against CR Kendall Corp. last month as part of Atna’s bankruptcy protection proceedings.

The department is requiring a long-term water management and treatment for 10 to 40 years for the removal of thallium and arsenic, beginning this year. The state says it has enough money for seven years of environmental protection, the Great Falls Tribune reported (https://tinyurl.com/j6gxvvs ).

Kendall’s original bond is more than $2 million with interest. The state says it needs to make up the balance of $8.4 million.

The state says the company has also done a lot of cleanup on its own.

Bonnie Gestring, northwest program director for the environmental group Earthworks, said there is a big question about who will pay.

“We have yet another mining company and another bond that is inadequate leaving taxpayers in a position of liability and leaving people living downstream having to worry whether they are going to have clean water,” Gestring said.

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Information from: Great Falls Tribune, https://www.greatfallstribune.com


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