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Settlement Resolves One of the Largest Superfund Cases Ever Filed
Date Posted: June 13, 2011
A settlement has been reached with Hecla Mining Company to resolve one of the largest cases ever filed under the Superfund statute. Under the settlement, Hecla will pay $263.4 million plus interest to the United States, the Coeur d’Alene Tribe and the state of Idaho to resolve claims stemming from releases of wastes from its mining operations. Settlement funds will be dedicated to restoration and remediation of natural resources in the Coeur d’Alene Basin. The agreement, which was lodged in federal district court in Idaho today, brings closure to that lawsuit and establishes a strong basis for future cooperation between Hecla and the governments in the Coeur d’Alene Basin.
The lawsuit was originally brought against Hecla and other mining companies by the Coeur d’Alene Tribe in 1991. The United States and the state of Idaho later joined the lawsuit. The lawsuit sought damages for injuries to natural resources such as clean water, fish and birds caused by millions of tons of mining wastes that had been released into the South Fork of the Coeur d’Alene River and its tributaries. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and Idaho have been performing cleanup work in the Coeur d’Alene Basin since the early 1980s, and the suit also sought to recover cleanup costs.
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The consent decree, lodged in the U.S. District Court for the District of Idaho, is subject to a 30-day public comment period and approval by the federal court. A copy of the consent decree is available on the Justice Department Web site at www.justice.gov/enrd/Consent_Decrees.html.