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Feds sue Nevada mining company to recover cleanup costs

The federal government is suing a Nevada mining company in a bid to recover more than $7 million spent to clean up lead, arsenic and other hazardous materials that contaminated the environment at three mine sites in Idaho.
The lawsuit filed by Idaho U.S. Attorney Wendy Olson names Federal Resources Corp., which mined two locations in Bonner County and another in Blaine County between from the 1950s through the 1970s.
The lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court in Boise, claims the federal government is owed another $7.4 million from efforts between 2001 through 2007 to remove and contain hazardous wastes blamed for contaminating soils and surface waters in and around the historic mine sites.
The company mined silver and lead at the Conjecture Mine near Lakeville from 1956 to 1964 when it was known as the Federal Uranium Corp., according to the lawsuit. The company also operated a silver mine nearby called the Idaho Lakeview Mine Site during the same period. Both locations suffered environmental damage from the release of arsenic, lead, manganese and zinc, according to the complaint.
Federal officials are also trying to recover costs tied to environmental remedies performed at the Minnie Moore Mine, located west of Bellevue in central Idaho. The company owned and extracted silver from site from 1961 through 1971, a period when materials such as arsenic, lead, manganese and cadmium were generated and released into the environment, according to the lawsuit.
All three of the mines were active before being taken over by Federal Resources, some dating back to the late 1800s when miners began drilling and digging tunnels into the mineral-laden mountains. But federal officials claim activities intensified significantly when Federal Resources took ownership of those mines.
The company is no longer actively mining, officials said. But the federal Superfund law allows the government to tap the company to recoup expenses from cleanup efforts and to cover and future monitoring expenses.
Gregg Rosen, the attorney listed on the lawsuit as representing the company, did not immediately return telephone and email messages left April 5 by The Associated Press.

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