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US Steel seeks to intervene in lawsuits over Minntac tailings permit

Steel News - Published on Fri, 18 Jan 2019

Image Source: SteelGuru
Timber Jay reported that US Steel Corporation is seeking to intervene in a pair of lawsuits that challenge the company’s new permit for water discharge from the Minntac tailings basin north of Virginia.

Permit is being appealed by the group Water Legacy, which contends the permit issued by the state’s Pollution Control Agency last month is a violation of the federal Clean Water Act. Paula Maccabee, legal counsel for Water Legacy, said “US Steel, given the impact the twin lawsuits could have on the company’s operations, is likely to be granted the right to intervene in the case, and will likely do so on the side of its regulator. They have a right to do so, and we don’t intend to challenge it.”

The second lawsuit, filed Dec 31 by the Fond du Lac Band of Ojibwe, argues similarly to the case filed by Water Legacy, contending that the provisions of the newly-issued Minntac permit fail to comply with federal laws and rules. As with Water Legacy, the tribe takes particular issue with the MPCA’s decision not to classify Minntac’s tailings basin as a point source of pollution. Their attorney said “Therefore, the MPCA reasoned, it need not include in the permit certain adjacent, impacted surface waters or groundwater because they would only be considered receiving waters if the tailings basin were a ‘point source.”

The two challenges to the MPCA’s discharge permit will be heard by the state’s Court of Appeals, where the two cases are likely to be combined.

According to the EPA, the basin’s various seeps and discharge points were discharging a combined 4.3 million gallons of polluted water into the two river systems. The Sand River is a tributary of the Pike River, which flows into Lake Vermilion.

Minntac is the state’s largest taconite mine and processing plant and employs about 1,800 workers. Its massive tailings basin contains billions of gallons of water that is known to contain high concentrations of sulfate, total suspended solids, bicarbonates, and other pollutants. Critics contend that discharges from the basin have decimated once-abundant wild rice crops in some receiving waters, including Sandy and Little Sandy lakes, as well as the Dark and Sand rivers.

Source :

Posted By : Joykumar Irom on Fri, 18 Jan 2019
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