Pinyon Plain Mine (formerly Canyon Mine) | Permit of Interest | FAQs: Page 2 of 7

Does ADEQ plan to renew the General APP for the Canyon Mine?

After extensive research and consideration of public concern, and out of an abundance of caution ADEQ requested the owner of the Canyon Mine (EFRI) to apply for an Individual APP and EFRI agreed.

ADEQ has determined that while the existing General APPs meet the requirements set forth in law, and additional groundwater protections are required by the USFS EIS and USFS ROD, and USFS-approved facility Plan of Operations, an abundance of caution suggests that an Individual APP is prudent. An Individual APP will:

  • Contain all the environmental protection requirements of the three General APPs issued to the facility and consolidate them into one Individual APP,
  • Consolidate into the Individual APP all of the groundwater protection requirements contained in the existing USFS-approved facility Plan of Operations, which will result in the inclusion of additional conditions into the Individual APP, such as increased monitoring and clean closure requirements on final reclamation of the mine,
  • Consolidate the extensive data available for this facility from several sources into one hydrogeologic report,
  • Provide for the enforceability of the existing voluntary conditions, which were part of the General APPs for the lined impoundment and rock storage piles as well as the groundwater protections required by the USFS EIS and ROD, and USFS-approved facility Plan of Operations during operation and after final closure under one Individual APP, and
  • Include additional requirements for EFRI to conduct groundwater monitoring — both existing and planned — as well as any additional groundwater monitoring ADEQ deems necessary after reviewing the application.

To determine specific permit requirements, ADEQ carefully reviews all application elements, which includes a technical review of supporting documents. As part of the permitting process, ADEQ also:

  • Seeks and considers stakeholder and public input through offering tribal consultations, public review and comment on a draft permit and a public hearing,
  • Prepares a responsiveness summary for public comments received.

If all rule requirements are met, ADEQ is required by law to issue the permit.
EFRI may continue to operate under the applicable General APPs until ADEQ makes a final decision for the Individual APP application and EFRI is able to continue operations under the Individual APP.

Can ADEQ deny an application for an Individual APP?

ADEQ must issue an Individual APP if the application requirements are met. ADEQ can deny an Individual APP application for three reasons [A.A.C. R18-9-A213(B)]:

  1. An applicant fails or refuses to correct a deficiency in the permit application. Example: ADEQ requests additional information for the impoundment liner design and the applicant does not provide sufficient information for ADEQ to determine whether the liner meets requirements in rule or statute [A.A.C. R18-9-A202(A)(5) and A.R.S. 49-243.B.1].
  2. An applicant fails to demonstrate that the facility will comply with statutory requirements. Example: In the statutes and rules, the applicant must demonstrate that their discharges will comply with applicable Aquifer Water Quality Standards (AWQSs) at a point of compliance [A.A.C. R18-9-A202.A.6 and A.R.S. 49-243.B.2 and 243.B.3].
  3. The applicant provides false or misleading information.

Does ADEQ have authority to shut-down a facility?

ADEQ has the authority to revoke an environmental permit if a permittee is not meeting the permit conditions [A.R.S. § 49-242; A.R.S. § 49-245.B; A.A.C. R18-9-A307; A.A.C. R18-9-A213]. ADEQ may then seek a court injunction requiring the facility to cease operations until the violation has been corrected.

Why wasn’t this facility considered for an Individual APP in 2009?

In 2009, ADEQ determined the impoundment liner and other engineering requirements of the General APP were protective of  groundwater, in accordance with applicable regulations. At that time, ADEQ augmented the General APP for the impoundment to require:

  • Water quality monitoring from the mine shaft,
  • An annual report to ADEQ of activities and analytical results, 
  • Testing the permeability of the rock at the bottom of the mine shaft to determine the need to install a liner at the bottom of the mine shaft to prevent intrusion of water into the aquifer, and
  • A financial assurance mechanism for proper closure of the impoundment.

Under these additional conditions in the General APP, EFRI is required to pump out any water that accumulates in the mine shaft.

What do the data in the water quality annual reports indicate? May I review the reports?

Facility annual reports include test results of water samples collected from water pumped from the bottom of the mine shaft. Results show the presence of constituents like arsenic, antimony, nickel and uranium. These results are consistent for a developing mine and contemplated in the USFS EIS and ROD, USFS-approved facility Plan of Operations and existing General APP.

To protect the environment, water from the shaft is contained and managed in two storage tanks and evaporated in a lined impoundment, in accordance with the USFS ROD, USFS-approved facility Plan of Operations and existing General APP | View Current Report >