The Arizona Department of Environmental Quality (ADEQ) will be holding a public meeting on Thursday, December 1st to take public comment on the draft amendment to the APP for the Johnson Camp Mine. The meeting will begin at 5:30 and will be held in Benson at the Benson City Council Chamber, 120 W. 6th St., Benson AZ 85602, from 5:30 p.m. to 7:00 PM. Nord Resources Cooperation, the current owner of the mine, will be giving a presentation before the meeting at the same location (the Benson City Council Chamber) starting at 5:00.
Please attend the meeting and make oral comments on the permit.
The Johnson Camp mine has been operating outside the town of Dragoon (north of I-10 just east of Texas Canyon) since the early 1900’s. In 2010, ADEQ for the first time the approved an Aquifer Protection Permit (APP) for the mine. We commented on the original draft permit and found a number of deficiencies in the permit. In April of 2011, Nord Resources made major changes in their mining plan. As a result, ADEQ has released a draft significant amendment to the APP and is winding down a 30 day comment period on the draft.
In our view, the new draft permit has the same deficiencies as the original, Some of the problems with the original permit that have been repeated in the new draft are:
- Basic baseline monitoring is not required before the permit is approved.
- Numerous reports and analyses do not need to be complete until long after the permit is granted (for example, a mine closure plan does not need to be prepared until 90 days after ADEQ is notified that the mine will close!).
- The bonding for cleanup and reclamation is too low.
- The company is allowed to self report infractions and results of monitoring with no independent oversight by ADEQ.
- Monitoring wells to make sure that pollution does not spread from the mine are not required (if at all), until the pollution actually spreads.
- In March of 2011, Nord agreed to pay a $65,000 settlement for pollution violations, despite this track record of non-compliance, ADEQ, in this draft permit is still willing to trust Nord to do the right thing without requiring plans, baseline data, or monitoring facilities in place before their permit is updated.
If you wish to send written comments, send them to Spencer York, Mining Unit, ADEQ, Groundwater Section, 1110 W. Washington Street, MC5451B-3, Phoenix, AZ 85007.