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Court request gives mine owners hope

Posted: Sunday, September 02, 2007

A federal court has indicated it may be willing to resurrect a controversial waste disposal plan for the Kensington Mine.

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The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals has asked the Southeast Alaska Conservation Council to respond to Coeur Alaska's appeal of its ruling against the Kensington Mine.

A three-judge panel of the 9th Circuit had found earlier that Kensington's plan to dispose of its mine rock waste in Lower Slate Lake did not comply with the clean water laws. Coeur appealed and asked the full 11-judge panel to consider the case.

The court's decision to ask the plaintiffs, which include SEACC, the Sierra Club and Lynn Canal Conservation, seems to indicate they are at least considering granting the appeal, said Tony Ebersole, Coeur spokesman.

"It's kind of an encouraging thing for us," he said.

The court does not always want to hear responses to requests for full hearings and rejects many without such responses from plaintiffs.

"I think it is an indication that they consider the petition for a rehearing to have sufficient merit that they called for a response," he said.

SEACC's Buck Lindekugel said it was difficult to try to predict what the request meant.

Related Links

• Related Article Coeur Alaska, SEACC reach out cautiously

"They're interested in what our opinions are," he said.

The deadline for the plaintiffs to weigh in is in October, he said, but because SEACC's attorney would be traveling in September, they'd likely ask for a short extension of time to respond, he said.

That could take the time for a response into late October, he said.

• Contact Pat Forgey at 523-2250 or patrick.forgey@juneauempire.com.



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