Idaho tribe sues mining company over pollution at idle site – by Keith Ridler (Associated Press/Times Union – August 9, 2019)

BOISE, Idaho (AP) — The Nez Perce Tribe has filed a lawsuit to force a Canadian company to clean up an idle central Idaho mining area — which the company says it plans to do if it gets approval from U.S. officials to restart mining at the site.

The tribe contends in the federal lawsuit filed Thursday that British Columbia-based Midas Gold is illegally allowing arsenic, cyanide and mercury to remain in the area where the tribe has had hunting and fishing rights since an 1855 treaty with the U.S.

Midas Gold itself has never mined in the area about 40 miles (65 kilometers) east of McCall, but in the past decade has acquired existing mining claims and developed a plan it says will clean up the mess left by a century of mining by other companies. The tribe in the lawsuit said it’s time for the company to act.

“The reality is that Midas Gold has worked on and studied the project site since 2009, but has not taken action to address the existing sources of pollution at the proposed project site,” Shannon Wheeler, chairman of the Nez Perce Tribal Executive Committee, said in a statement.

The tribe is suing under the citizen enforcement provision of the federal Clean Water Act, which prohibits a company from polluting waters unless it has an appropriate federal permit. The tribe says Midas Gold is violating the law by allowing discharge from previous mining efforts to pollute the area without that permit.

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