A court decision handed down on Friday, Oct. 13, spelled bad luck for developers of the proposed New World gold mine. A federal judge ruled that Crown Butte Mines and its parent corporations had violated the Clean Water Act by failing to clean up old mine waste from the site, which sits on the northeastern edge of Yellowstone National Park.
requires Crown Butte and the Canadian conglomerate Noranda Inc. to
come up with a cleanup plan before getting water discharge permits
needed to start the mine. They may also have to pay up to $150
million in fines.
The companies had argued that
the acid drainage, which has killed all aquatic life in nearby
areas, is natural. The judge rejected those claims, citing earlier
statements by Crown Butte president Joe Baylis that old mine sites
were the source of pollutants. Under the Clean Water Act, current
owners of a site are liable for pollution from past
Bob Ekey, with the Greater
Yellowstone Coalition - one of 10 environmental groups who filed
the suit - praised the court's decision, including its rejection of
Noranda's claim that only the subsidiary Crown Butte was liable for
contamination. Said Ekey: "We want those deep pockets to be