Atlanta Gold said fire cuts off access and prevents water cleanup efforts

Atlanta Gold reported Tuesday the Trinity Ridge Fire has cutoff access to its mine site near Atlanta forcing it to reduce the court-ordered improvements to its water treatment system.

U.S. District Judge Mikel Williams ordered Atlanta Gold in July to comply with the Clean Water Act by October by removing more arsenic and iron that is running from an old mining tunnel into Montezuma Creek, a tributary of the Boise River. Atlanta Gold said the fire was interrupting and has severely limited how much work it can do in the isolated community on the Middle Fork of the Boise River.

“While we are disappointed that our progress has been interrupted by the fire, we are fortunate that there has been no harm to the people or damage to the equipment associated with the project,” said Ernest Simmons, Atlanta Gold President and CEO. “ We are continuing to make the limited environmental improvements and look forward to resuming our full activities on site as soon as possible.”

The fire, which started Aug. 3, has grown to 128,000 acres, shutting off most access to Atlanta. The Forest Service estimates that restricted access may continue through to mid-October.

Company personnel are continuing to conduct limited work in the tunnel and make limited improvements to the current water treatment system, Simmons said in the press release. But the restricted access is preventing it from making longer term upgrades required by the court.

Williams also fined the company $2 million for violating the Clean Water Act since it agreed to bring the mine water effluent into compliance in 2009. The decision came after a lawsuit brought by the Idaho Conservation League and the Northwest Environmental Defense Center.