2007: Contested Case

State of Wisconsin Division of Hearings and Appeals – Case # IH-07-05 (May 2007)

Despite industry claims that the Flambeau Mine has succeeded in protecting the environment from adverse impact, the facts prove otherwise.

In May 2007, a contested case hearing was held over an application filed by Flambeau Mining Company (FMC) to obtain a Certificate of Completion (COC) from the State of Wisconsin for reclamation of the Flambeau Mine site. To summarize the final outcome:

(1) FMC received only a partial COC for its reclamation efforts at the 181-acre Flambeau Mine site. A 32-acre portion of the site known as the “Industrial Outlot” was denied COC certification due to ongoing problems with surface water pollution in a small tributary of the Flambeau River (known as Stream C) into which FMC, by design, had been discharging contaminated runoff from the mine site since 1998.

(2) FMC was required to develop a work plan to expand its environmental monitoring program at the Flambeau Mine site. In particular, the company was required to more thoroughly assess potential mine impacts to soils, sediments, Stream C and the Flambeau River (surface water, walleye and crayfish).

(3) FMC received COC certification for the 149-acre portion of the mine site encompassing the backfilled pit. Unfortunately, however, the certification was somewhat of a sham because FMC, through legal maneuvering, succeeded in securing a ruling from the State of Wisconsin Division of Hearings and Appeals that eliminated consideration of the follow factors at the hearing:

(a) Groundwater contamination within the mine’s backfilled pit that significantly exceeded levels predicted by FMC;

(b) Documented exceedances of Flambeau Mine Permit standards for groundwater pollution at the mine’s legally-established intervention boundary; and

(c) Data related to potential impacts of the mine on macroinvertebrates, sediment, crayfish, and walleye in the Flambeau River

Information regarding the above 3 factors was ruled inadmissable at the contested case hearing and therefore did not factor into the final decision to grant Flambeau Mining Company a partial COC for its reclamation efforts at the Flambeau Mine site. Instead, the awarding of the partial COC (for the portion of the mine site containing the backfilled pit) was based solely upon:

(a) completion of backfill operations according to reclamation plans previously approved by the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (WDNR); and

(b) successful revegetation of the surface of the pit area of the mine.

Details of the contested case hearing are provided below.

Parties opposing issuance of a Certifcate of Completion to FMC for reclamation of the Flambeau Mine site:

Pre-filed Direct Testimony:

Additional Contested Case Hearing Documents:

Follow-up Documents related to mandatory Work Plan required of FMC in Order Issued by State of Wisconsin Division of Hearings and Appeals:

Documents Related to Public Hearing Held Prior to Contested Case Hearing, May 16-17, 2007:

News Coverage of the Contested Case Hearing: