XS Platinum and Officials Indicted for Illegal Discharge and False Statements

Aerial view of Platinum Creek mining operations in Southwest Alaska. Image-Google Earth

Aerial view of Platinum Creek mining operations in Southwest Alaska. Image-Google Earth

It was announced by the Department of Justice on Wednesday that XS Platinum as well as five of its officers and employees were indicted by a Federal Grand Jury in Anchorage on five felony violations.

The Justice Department said in a press release:

“The indictment charges XS Platinum, Inc. (XSP), a Delaware corporation, and five of its officers and employees, Dr. Bruce Butcher, 59, and Mark Balfour, 62 (both Australian citizens), James Slade, 57 (a Canadian citizen), and Robert Pate, 62 and James Staeheli, 43 (both U.S. citizens residing in Washington state) with conspiracy to violate the Clean Water Act (CWA) during the defendants’ operation of the Platinum Creek Mine on the Salmon River in Western Alaska.

In addition, the indictment charges XSP, Butcher, Balfour, Slade, and Pate with knowingly violating the terms of XSP’s CWA permit in 2010; and XSP, Butcher, Balfour, Slade, and Staeheli with knowingly violating the terms of XSP’s CWA permit in 2011. The indictment also charges XSP, Butcher, Balfour, Slade and Pate with submitting a false statement in violation of the CWA. Finally, the indictment charges XSP and Balfour with submitting a separate false statement.”

The Platimun Creek Mine, which consists of 159 placer mining claims and 36 hard rock claims, is accused of of “knowingly discharging industrial waste-waters” into the Salmon River, which is an anadromous fish stream that hosts all five salmon species. The Salmon River discharges into Kuskokwim Bay after flowing through BLM and the Togiak National Wildlife Refuge beginning in 2010 and throughout 2011.

XS Platinum did this contrary to their declaration to federal regulators that the operation would recycle all of the wastewater generated at the mining operation with “zero discharge” into the Salmon River. In order to cover up their 2010 and 2011 violations, individuals with Platinum submitted false statements to federal agencies.

Although the monitoring data at the Platinum Creek mining operation showed that there had been numerous discharges into the river from discharge ponds, Platinum’s annual report to state and federal agencies  in 2011 showed that there had been no discharges during 2010.

The company even flagrantly dug a ditch to drain  waste-water into Squirrel Creek under orders from the mine’s general manager Robert Pate according to allegations.