Cliffs to pay six-figure fine to Minnesota Pollution Control AgencyCliffs Natural Resources will pay a $242,973 civil penalty to the MPCA for the improper monitoring and handling of leachate at Northshore Mining in Silver Bay.
By: News Tribune staff, Duluth News Tribune
Cliffs Natural Resources will pay a $242,973 civil penalty to the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency for the improper monitoring and handling of leachate at Northshore Mining in Silver Bay.
The company also announced today that it has agreed to submit to the MPCA plans describing the actions being taken to ensure leachate is properly monitored and handled at the facility. Leachate occurs when moisture seeps through the plant’s landfill and mixes with coal ash. It is captured on the bottom liner of the landfill and shipped to offsite containment.
In 2011, leachate with elevated pH levels was mistakenly transported to the Western Lake Superior Sanitary District wastewater treatment plant in Duluth, where it was processed. According to Northshore, there was no damage to the WLSSD facility or harm to the environment because of the incident.
“We regret that this incident happened, but it has resulted in significant improvements to our landfill management practices,” Northshore Mining General Manager Ed LaTendresse said in a news release. “We remain committed to Cliffs’ core value of environmental stewardship and are confident that these new methods will ensure the leachate generated by our power plant is handled appropriately moving forward.”
The improvements Northshore Mining is making to the management of its landfill include:
Northshore also will make a $75,000 contribution towards expansion of the household hazardous waste product reuse center at the WLSSD facility in Duluth.
“WLSSD provides a great service to the area by collecting items that can be reused by the community,” LaTendresse said. “We hope our donation will help the facility meet the increased demand for this valuable service.”
In February, Cliffs agreed to pay a $240,175 civil penalty and make changes in operations at Northshore Mining in an agreement struck with the MPCA. The MPCA had determined that the company violated state and federal air regulations for dust at least five times in 2010 and early 2011.
In addition to the civil penalty and a promise to increase air-monitoring efforts, Cliffs will pay $79,825 toward the purchase of seven air measurement devices to be used by the PCA to monitor air in the Silver Bay area.