EPA issues significant fine for EPCRA violations at Nevada mine

published in McAfee & Taft RegLINC | January 1, 2012

By Vickie Buchanan

The Emergency Planning and Community Right to Know Act (EPCRA) requires companies that manufacture, process or use extremely hazardous substances (EHSs) in potentially dangerous quantities in their business operations to file reports disclosing information about the EHSs and to work with local authorities to prepare emergency response plans. In recent years, 97 percent of all toxic releases reported to the EPA in Nevada came from metal ore mining facilities. As a result, in 2008 the EPA began an effort to ensure that the mining sector was complying with EPCRA requirements and submitting timely and accurate information to local authorities.

As part of this effort, EPA investigators discovered that Jipangu International, Inc. (JII) failed to submit timely, complete and correct Toxic Release Inventory Reports (TRIs) in 2005, 2006 and 2007. Specifically, JII did not fully disclose information about chemicals, including cyanide, used to extract gold from the ore mined at its Nevada facility, and lead and mercury compounds that were produced during the extraction process. In a settlement with the EPA, JII agreed to amend its TRI reports for 2005 through 2010 to be EPCRA compliant. In addition, the EPA ordered JII to pay a fine in the amount of $105,000 for failing to report releases of toxic chemicals and waste management activities. The EPA stated that there is no evidence that JII’s EPCRA violations posed any immediate threat or danger to nearby communities or workers at the mining facility.