Triumph Mine Arsenic Pollution

Triumph Mine Arsenic Pollution

Current Status:

Case Title:
Notice of intent to sue

Staff attorney(s):
Bryan Hurlbutt


Idaho Conservation League

To Protect:

Clean Water

Fish Habitat


Case Information:

November 27, 2018 – After reaching a settlement agreement with the agencies in October, the Court reviewed and approved our settlement. Under the agreement, the Idaho Department of Environmental Quality and Idaho Department of Lands have applied to EPA for a Clean Water Act permit and must regularly monitor ground and surface water quality at the site, install warning signs near contaminated waters, and evaluate the need for additional fencing.

September 14, 2018 – Advocates for the West filed suit on behalf of the Idaho Conservation League against the Idaho Department of Environmental Quality and Idaho Department of Lands for unlawfully discharging arsenic and other harmful pollutants to the East Fork without a federal Clean Water Act permit.

May 29th, 2018 – Advocates for the West teamed up with Idaho Conservation League to send a notice letter to the state of Idaho that we intend to file suit over Clean Water Act violations at the abandoned Triumph Mine site in Idaho’s Blaine County.

The Clean Water Act requires cleanup and monitoring of polluted water from mining sites before the water flows into surface waters, like the East Fork of the Big Wood River. The state of Idaho, which manages the abandoned mine site, has not secured Clean Water Act permits and continues to discharge polluted water into a wetland area that connects to the river.

In the 1990s, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency proposed cleaning up the Triumph Mine site under the national Superfund program because of high levels of contamination and risks to human health and the environment. Instead of supporting Superfund cleanup, the state convinced the EPA to let it work with the mining companies to implement cleanup. But those mining companies went bankrupt, so the state and Idaho taxpayers remain responsible for Triumph Mine.

While the state has completed some pollution prevention and cleanup at the site, a contaminated waste rock pile and a mine adit continues to pollute the East Fork of the Big Wood River and nearby wetlands.