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Mining firm allowed to continue discharge.

A mining company has been permitted to continue discharging mineral-laden water into a creek near Hot Springs.

Umetco Minerals Corp. of Hot Springs is reclaiming its defunct 1960s-era, 500-acre vanadium mine on Malvern Road, and part of that program involves collecting and treating storm water that then flows into Wilson Creek.

The water was exceeding the state's old standards of 142 milligrams per liter for dissolved solids, 15 milligrams per liter for chlorides and 20 milligrams per liter for sulfates.

According to the Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality, the company came under fire for the deposits in late 2010, then claimed the old standard would force it to use prohibitively expensive treatment systems.

Initially, Umetco attempted to strip Wilson Creek of its secondary drinking water designation--the creek does not supply drinking water, but it flows into Lake Catherine and then to the Ouachita River, which do--and failing that, it simply asked the Arkansas Pollution Control & Ecology Commission to switch it over to the present discharge standards.

Under current standards, water deposited into secondary drinking water may have no more than 500 milligrams per liter of dissolved solids, 56 milligrams per liter of chlorides and 250 milligrams per liter of sulfates.

The commission agreed to this, but ADEQ is nevertheless fining Umetco for failing to meet the old standard since September 2010.

Cecillea Pond-Mayo, ADEQ's public information officer, said the fine amount has not yet been determined. "We're still negotiating the terms of that enforcement action," she said.
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Title Annotation:SOUTH ARKANSAS
Author:Jones, Luke
Publication:Arkansas Business
Date:Sep 12, 2011
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