Mining operator convicted of 2 misdemeanors for polluting Southwest Alaska river – by Jerzy Shedlock (Alaska Dispatch News – October 7, 2015)

A Southwest Alaska mine operator from Canada was convicted of two misdemeanor violations of the federal Clean Water Act on Wednesday in Anchorage for allowing muddy water to seep into a salmon stream over the course of two mining seasons.

The government charged James Slade — a mining consultant from Calgary, Alberta, who became chief operating officer for XS Platinum Inc. in 2010 — with six felonies. The charges included conspiracy, various violations of the Clean Water Act and submission of a false report.

Jurors could have found that Slade violated the regulations knowingly or negligently. They decided Slade’s actions were irresponsible but could not reach a unanimous decision about whether he knew he was breaking the law on two of the charges. What could have been felony convictions were instead found to be misdemeanors.

The jury deliberated for two days, finding Slade not guilty of half of his alleged crimes. The government will decide next week whether or not to retry Slade for three charges on which jurors were deadlocked, said First Assistant U.S. Attorney Kevin Feldis.

Federal prosecutors alleged XS Platinum Inc. and its executives and on-site managers violated clean water regulations when they intensified efforts to recover platinum from an old mine on the edge of Kuskokwim Bay during their 2010 and 2011 mining seasons. The operation allowed dirty water stored in a pond to enter the Salmon River, they said.

Ultimately, Slade was convicted of polluting the Salmon River with turbid wastewater from Platinum Creek Mine, which he was in charge of operating, Feldis said.

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