EPA Seeks Input on Black Mesa Mine Wastewater Permit

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency will hold public hearings on Feb. 23 and 24 to allow additional public participation and comment on the proposed wastewater permit renewal for the Peabody Western Coal Company Black Mesa / Kayenta Complex.

Both hearings will be held from 6-9 p.m. On Feb. 23 the hearings will be held in Kayenta, Ariz., at the Kayenta Chapter House on Highway 163 and on Feb. 24 in Kykotsmovi at the Veterans Memorial Center.

EPA initially took comment on the proposed permit in February 2009 but decided to withdraw the permit renewal in order to ensure that community members had adequate opportunities to comment on the permit decision. In the interim, the mine continues to operate under a previously issued National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System permit. Comments on the proposed permit renewal will be accepted through March 31.

The renewed permit will establish runoff limits and standards based on national guidelines and will ensure that water quality standards for both the Navajo Nation and the Hopi Tribe are met. In addition, the renewed permit will incorporate new regulatory requirements for reclaimed mine areas and will require the implementation of plans to control sediment and seepage from stormwater ponds.

The Clean Water Act requires that all industrial dischargers of wastewater obtain a permit. The Black Mesa Mine has been operating under a wastewater discharge permit for over 20 years for the release of treated stormwater related to mining activities.

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