FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE TUESDAY, JANUARY 31, 1994

ENR EPA (202) 260-1384 DOJ (202) 616-0189 TDD (202) 514-1888

LANDMARK SETTLEMENT WILL REDUCE AIR POLLUTION FROM NORTHERN MICHIGAN SMELTER HEIGHTENED LEVELS OF MERCURY FOUND IN BLOOD OF LOCAL NATIVE AMERICANS

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- In a landmark settlement that will help reduce air and water pollution in the northern regions of Michigan and Wisconsin, the Copper Range Company has agreed to curb the mercury, lead and cadmium output from its smelting plant in White Pine, MI, and to pay $4.8 million for civil penalties and environmental projects under a settlement announced today by the Department of Justice and Environmental Protection Agency. The settlement also offers relief for local Native Americans whose blood contains elevated levels of mercury from air pollution. The settlement resolves a 1992 Clean Air Act suit brought by the National Wildlife Federation and Michigan United Conservation Clubs that was later joined by the United States, Michigan and Wisconsin. The $4.8 million payment, which will be divided among the United States and The lawsuit alleged that Copper Range's smelter emissions violated the federal Clean Air Act's limits on the release of small particles like ash, as well as limits on pollution that blocks light, and that the high volume of mercury emissions from the smelter violated Michigan's Environmental Protection Act. The suit also challenged the company's failu standing excess emissions to federal and state authorities, as required by the Emergency Planning and Community Right to Know Act. The smelter's numerous heavy metal emissions -- including mercury, cadmium,and lead -- contaminated large areas of the Lake S "We sat down at the table and rolled up our sleeves to reach a fair settlement, and the winners are the people of Michigan and Wisconsin, including Native Americans who live in the area affected by Lois Schiffer, U.S. Assistant Attorney General for Environment and Natural Resources. "By settling the case fairly instead of litigating, we are saving taxpayer dollars, cleaning up past pollution, and protecting the air for the people of the Lake Superior Basin." She also expressed hope that the settlement would "set a precedent for partnership." Under the settlement, Copper Range will pay $1.6 million in civil penaltiesto the United States, $200,000 in civil penalties trustees. The size of the settlement reflects the seriousness and duration of the violations and the potential harm stemming from the extended period of violations on the environment. As much as $1.4 million out of the $1.6 million civil penalty payment to the United States may be placed in a special fund provided for by the Clean Air Act to be used to finance environmental compliance "This settlement is an excellent example of how the federal government, states and citizens groups can work in concert to find common sense solutions that protect human health and the environment," said Steven A. Herman, EPA Assistant Administrator for Enforcement and Compliance Assurance. $1.7 million from the trust will be used for mercury monitoring studies to be carried out with the involvement of affected Na American representative will also participate on an advisory board that will make recommendations for the selection of habitat enhancement projects by the trust. Because the Native American community has been especially hard-hit by mercury pollution, the settlement's terms mark another step in the Administration's efforts to insure that minorities receive proper redress for pollution that affects their communities. "This settlement helps the cause of environmental justice for the Native Americans of Michigan and Wisconsin," said Michael H the Western District of Michigan. "The money used to study mercury contamination will help us better understand and respond to this threat in the future. This Administration is committed to redressing pollution affecting the local Native American population." In addition to the cash payment, Copper Range will begin building a new smelter to curb future pollution from its facility. million will be spent on rebuilding the smelter to comply with stringent standards for new copper smelters. If all goes as planned, this will be the largest remedial package ever implemented pursuant to a Clean Air Act consent decree. The settlement also gives the company flexibility to continue to respond toconditions in the copper market. However, if the operation of its smelter for any reason, it will have to comply with specific requirements in the consent decree to restart operations. "The Great Lakes are a precious resource that have, for too long, been contaminated by loadings of pollutants, including heav #### 95-058