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Hecla Mining Will Pay $600K Settlement Over Water Pollution

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Hecla Mining, the largest primary silver producer in the United States and one of the most profitable companies in Idaho, has agreed to pay a $600,000 settlement with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Department of Justice in connection with its activities at the Lucky Friday Mine and mill in the Idaho panhandle. In particular, the violations concern water pollution near the headwaters of the South Fork of the Coeur d'Alene River.

Hecla officials said they "don't agree with the EPA on all of these allegations," but were ready to "settle and move on."

This morning's Coeur d'Alene Press reports that the violations stem from Hecla's failure to install adequate controls to ensure that stormwater runoff was properly managed from a tailings pond. As a result, runoff destroyed a water intake at a downstream fish hatchery. Additionally, feds said Hecla's Lucky Friday Mine was the source of metals-laden water seeping into nearby Harris Creek. 

In a statement released Monday, Ed Kowalksi from the EPA's Seattle office wrote, "The last thing rivers like the South Fork Coeur d'Alene need are unpermitted discharges and permit violations."