Atlanta Gold

Atlanta Gold

Current Status:

Date Filed:
Apr 18, 2011

Case Title:
Idaho Conservation League and Northwest Environmental Defense Center v. Atlanta Gold Corporations


Northwest Environmental Defense Center

Idaho Conservation League

To Protect:

Clean water
Bull trout

Date won/settled:
January 9, 2012


Case Information:

July 19, 2012 — Advocates for the West received a strong decision from US District Court Judge Williams in our case against Atlanta Gold Corporation for its ongoing pollution of the treasured Boise River watershed.

Judge Williams ordered Atlanta Gold Corp. to come into compliance with the Clean Water Act by October 31, 2012 and ordered it to pay at least $2,000,000 in penalties to the US Treasury, as a remedy for more than two thousand violations of the Clean Water Act in Montezuma Creek, a tributary of the Middle Fork Boise River, near Atlanta, Idaho.

Conservation groups Idaho Conservation League and Northwest Environmental Defense Center (NEDC) filed suit challenging Atlanta Gold’s failure to comply with its Clean Water Act permit in 2011, represented byAdvocates for the West attorney Kristin Ruether and NEDC attorney Andrew Hawley.

Following our win, Advocates for the West has asked the District Court of Idaho to hold Atlanta Gold accountable for its Clean Water Act violations by ordering it to clean up its act and pay about $3.5 million in penalties to the federal treasury.

Specifically, we asked the Court to order Atlanta Gold to begin complying with its Clean Water Act permit in 90 days.  This should spur Atlanta Gold to finally install an effective treatment plant to remove more arsenic and iron from its effluent flowing from a mine adit.

We also asked the Court to impose about $3.5 million in civil penalties on Atlanta Gold. Congress provided for civil penalties in the Clean Water Act as a means to deter polluters from violating again, and to deter others from becoming scofflaws. The Act provides for penalties of up to $37,500 per violation. Atlanta Gold has committed over 1,875 violations of its permit, meaning the Court could impose over $70 million in penalties. Civil penalties are paid to the federal government.

January 9, 2012 — The District of Idaho federal court ruled in our favor, finding that Atlanta Gold was responsible for hundreds of violations of its permit. The next step is to determine how Atlanta Gold should come into compliance, and what size of penalty is appropriate.

After a 2005 lawsuit by Advocates for the West on behalf of Idaho Conservation League, Atlanta Gold agreed to get a permit under the Clean Water Act for pollution discharging from a mine adit near Atlanta, Idaho into Montezuma Creek, a tributary of the Middle Fork Boise River.

Atlanta Gold got its permit, but the pollution levels of arsenic and iron have been in near-constant violation of its terms. Advocates for the West has teamed up with the Northwest Environmental Defense Center and the Idaho Conservation League to enforce the Clean Water Act. We filed a new action in spring 2011.