SWUP plans suit against EPA

MARQUETTE – A member of the Marquette-based Save the Wild U.P. has filed a notice to sue the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency over alleged violations of the Clean Water Act at the Eagle Mine, according to the environmental group.

Jeffrey Loman, a member of the Keweenaw Bay Indian Community, filed the notice on June 24, according to SWUP.

SWUP, according to the group’s website, strives “to protect the Upper Peninsula from unsustainable development, degradation and dangerous contamination.”

Loman claims the EPA failed to require Rio Tinto to acquire a National Pollution Discharge Elimination System permit for treated mine water discharges at the Eagle Mine, a nickel and copper mine located on the Yellow Dog Plains.

According to SWUP, the treated mine water discharges from the mine will flow into the East Branch of the Salmon Trout River.

SWUP Executive Director Alexandra Thebert said that, following “great circumspection,” the notice to sue was sent by certified mail to the acting administrator of the EPA in Washington, D.C., the EPA Region 5 administrator in Chicago, The U.S. Attorney General, Gov. Rick Snyder and Eagle Mine president, Adam Burley.

“We seek to correct what is nothing short of a regulatory fiasco at the Eagle Mine,” Thebert said in a written statement. “This is just the first step in a multifaceted plan to do that in full measure – we are also calling for a federal investigation of the relationship between State of Michigan regulators and the mining industry.”

Rio Tinto responded succinctly to the SWUP announcement.

“Eagle remains in full compliance with all permitting requirements,” said spokesman Dan Blondeau.

Kyle Whitney can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 250.