Mine asks judge to enforce lawsuit settlement

Posted: Monday, August 04, 2008

ANCHORAGE - The operator of the Red Dog Mine on Friday asked a federal judge to enforce a settlement of a multimillion-dollar lawsuit accusing the mine of discharging excess pollutants into a creek.

The lawsuit was scheduled to go to trial in May. Both sides at that time filed a notice in federal court that they had reached a settlement.

Six people from the Northwest Arctic village of Kivalina filed the lawsuit.

In its filing Friday, mine operator Teck Cominco said the plaintiffs had changed their minds about the settlement.

All but one of the plaintiffs' proposed changes to the settlement have been resolved, according to Teck Cominco.

The sticking point is a clause that allows future lawsuits involving violations of the mine's water pollution permit, the British Columbia-based company said.

According to the company's court filing, the plaintiffs say if Teck Cominco will not accept the disputed change, the company must either pay additional money or go to trial.

Teck wants U.S. District Judge John Sedwick to enforce the original settlement with the changes that have been agreed upon.

In the settlement, Teck Cominco agreed to seek state and federal permission to build a pipeline to discharge treated wastewater in the ocean and to give water filtration units to Kivalina residents.

Teck also agreed to give an unspecified amount of money to Kivalina and pay automatic penalties if effluent limits agreed upon were exceeded.

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