BIA Preliminary Assessment

In February 2003, the BIA issued a Preliminary Assessment (PA) for the Gay Mine. The PA recommended that a Site Investigation be performed for the Gay Mine under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act (CERCLA). Simplot and FMC submitted comments on the PA (add link). The companies stated that any releases of selenium associated with past mining operations at the Gay Mine could be addressed in a faster and more efficient manner under the reclamation process, as they had proposed in 1997, 1998 and again in 2000, than under the often time-consuming CERCLA process.

In their comments the companies restated their commitment made in 2000 to partially backfill the pit lakes with elevated selenium concentrations, and to carry out that work as part of the mine reclamation. The Companies stated that such work could begin as early as the summer of 2003. The Companies also commented on numerous inaccuracies in the PA.

To the best of the companies’ knowledge, the BIA has not responded to the companies’ comments on the PA or revised the document to reflect those comments. Moreover, neither the Tribes, BIA nor any other Federal agency has provided any approval, disapproval or modification of the companies’ proposal to proceed with the final mine reclamation including their proposal to partially backfill the pit lakes with known selenium issues. The agency inaction prevented the companies from being able to proceed with these environmentally beneficial actions.