DEQ gives presenation, answers questions regarding Eagle Mine’s water permit

Marquette County residents heard information from the Department of Environmental Quality regarding the Eagle Mine’s goundwater discharge permit at a public hearing Tuesday night.

The DEQ gave a presentation regarding concerns and comments the organization has received about the mine’s permit.

One concern is there may be exceedances from the monitoring wells, causing a permit violation.

The DEQ said those exceedances are naturally occurring, and have been long before the mine was built.  Therefore, there is no permit violation and the permit is changed to reflect those exceedances.

“Most of them (the exceedances), about two-thirds of them occurred before Eagle Mine ever discharged,” DEQ Water Resources Division district supervisor Steve Casey said.  “Twenty-five percent occurred after the discharge but were in the same wells and the same levels as we saw before the discharge, and the last seven percent were from a well that was disturbed during construction.”

“We (the DEQ) believe it’s a good permit, it’s responsive to the statue as well as the comments we’ve heard.”

Casey attended a Save the Wild U.P. panel discussion and public meeting March 18 about the group’s concern with the mine’s permit.

He said meetings like Tuesday’s are helpful ways to clear up any misconceptions or problems the public sees with the permit.

“There’s 75 passionate people (at the Save the Wild U.P. meeting) who are concerned that this permit is appropriate, when we believe in fact it is.  And we want to get that message out, and if we’ve missed something then we expect the public will point it out to us and we can correct it.”

The DEQ will be taking comments on the Eagle Mine’s permit through April 1.  After that date, they take those comments into consideration and decide whether or not to issue the permit.

Eagle Mine released a statement to ABC 10 regarding the public hearing:

“We appreciate everyone that came out this evening to speak with state regulators about our permit application. For over two and a half years our water treatment systems have performed exceptionally. Our water treatment plant has, and continues to treat and discharge water that exceeds drinking water quality standards.”

For more information on the Eagle Mine’s permit, visit the mine’s website or the DEQ’s website.  Save the Wild U.P. also has information-pertaining to the group’s suggestions that there are issues with the permit–on its website.