On March 31, 2016, federal Judge Sharon Gleason sentenced the former Chief Operating Officer for mining company XS Platinum to one year in jail for his role in discharging pollutants in violation of the Platinum Creek Mine (Alaska) NPDES permit. The COO – James Slade – was convicted of one misdemeanor and one felony CWA violation for his role in allowing excess pollutants from mining discharges to enter the Platinum Creek and Salmon River. The court noted that state agencies had issued two previous warnings to stop the pollution.
Both the misdemeanor and felony convictions were for knowingly violating a permit condition and limitation by discharging effluent from the mine “[i] with turbidity more than five NTUs (Nephelometric Turbidity Units) above natural conditions; [ii] failing to report the unauthorized discharge of a pollutant, . . . [and iii] failing to monitor for turbidity at the point of discharge (at the frequency required by the permit).”
The government had demonstrated that Mr. Slade “was the man in charge and the most senior officer at the mine and supervised many employees involved in violating the Clean Water Act.” In that role, the government asserted that his “directions and decision making” kept the mine operating in violation of the CWA in order to “place profits over the environment.”
A copy of the government’s sentencing recommendations, which recount more details about the incident, is available Alaska CWA.