The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is holding a public hearing regarding its proposed issuance of a Class III Underground Injection Control (UIC) Area Permit for Florence Copper Inc. on Thursday, January 22 from 7:00 pm to 10:00 pm at the Florence High School gymnasium, located at 1000 South Main Street. The public is strongly encouraged to attend and voice their opinion on the proposed permit and the Florence Copper mine.
In addition to the public hearing, the EPA is collecting public comment by mail, email or fax. The deadline to submit comments is Friday, January 30, 2015. The Town of Florence strongly encourages residents and interested parties to provide comments to the EPA. Comments can be sent to:
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Region 9
Drinking Water Protection Section, Mail Code WTR-3-2
75 Hawthorne Street
San Francisco, CA 94105
Attention: Nancy Rumrill
Telephone: (415) 972-3293
Florence Copper applied for this permit with the EPA to begin operating a non-commercial, test in-situ copper mine on State Trust land adjacent to Hunt Highway in the geographic center of the Town of Florence, involving the injection of large quantities of sulfuric acid directly into the groundwater surrounding the copper deposit. The Town of Florence and the Florence Town Council remain opposed to the test project based, in part, on the likelihood of the mine polluting the Town’s water supply when sulfuric acid is injected directly into a large water aquifer that is used to provide water to neighboring homes and businesses, and which is critical to the future growth of the Town.
Florence Copper needs permits from both the EPA and the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality (ADEQ) before they can begin injecting acid into the Town’s groundwater. ADEQ previously issued an Aquifer Protection Permit (APP), which was nullified by the State Water Quality Appeals Board in November upon the recommendation of a judge who, following a six week hearing, found that Florence Copper’s claims supporting the APP were largely unsupported. Florence Copper must resubmit its application for an APP to ADEQ addressing, among other things, the deficiencies found by the judge and adopted by the Water Quality Appeals Board. ADEQ must hold a public hearing and solicit public comment in the upcoming months as part of that process.
It is important to clarify and emphasize that neither EPA nor ADEQ have issued or will necessarily issue the permits, and any claim or implication to the contrary is wrong or misleading.
More information about the proposed EPA permit can be found at http://www.epa.gov/region9/water/groundwater/uic-permits.html#open.