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WQD | Permit of Interest - Senator Mine

Water Quality Permit of Interest

Senator Mine

Posted On: July 10, 2024 -  1:00 p.m.

Facility Information

The Senator Mine, also known as 570 Adit Waste/Tailings Senator Highway, is a historic mine adit and tailings pile that dates back to the late 1800s. Copper, gold, lead, and zinc were intermittently mined through the 1930s. Currently, the site of the Senator Mine is jointly owned by Gold Paradise Peak, Inc. (GPPI) and Sino Vantage Group, Inc. (SVG). However, mine drainage from the historic adit is discharging to the Hassayampa River, which is impaired for cadmium, copper, and zinc. You can find more information on EPA's web page How's My Waterway? Waterbody Report | Learn More >

Pre-dating current ownership, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued a National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit from 1978 to 1983 to address water quality impacts from the Senator Mine adit. The discharge was not permitted again until the current owners were granted an Arizona Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (AZPDES) individual permit by ADEQ on Dec. 16, 2021. The AZPDES permit requires GPPI to build a passive treatment system of constructed wetlands to mitigate water quality impacts of the mine drainage to the Hassayampa River. 

Location

Lat.: 34.426769 Long.: -112.431670

The facility has no street address; it is located approximately 11 miles south of Prescott, AZ, on the south side of Senator Highway and Walker Road in an unincorporated area of Yavapai County.

Type(s) of Permits 

This facility has an AZPDES Individual Permit (Permit No.: AZ0026514) for the point source discharge from the adit to the Hassayampa River, effective Dec. 16, 2021. 

This facility also has a Notice of Intent (Authorization No.: AZMS81366) under the AZPDES General Permit for Stormwater Discharges Associated with Industrial Activity - Mineral Industry to Protected Surface Waters, also known as the Multi-Sector General Permit (MSGP), for stormwater runoff from the Senator Mine.

Site Background 

ADEQ, GPPI, and SVG entered into a Consent Order (APP-09-18) on Nov. 13, 2018. The Order required GPPI and SVG to address the unauthorized discharges from the Senator Mine adit. The terms of the Consent Order were not met. To address the ongoing violations, the Arizona Office of the Attorney General filed a civil action against GPPI and SVG. GPPI and SVG entered into a Consent Judgment (CV2019-005385) with ADEQ on Jan. 26, 2021. The Consent Judgment requires, in part, that GPPI and SVG address the impacts to the Hassayampa River from Senator Mine adit and tailings piles.

GPPI has failed to construct the wetlands necessary to treat the Senator Mine adit discharge into the Hassayampa River and has failed to address the impact from the tailings pile on the river. These failures are the subject of ongoing enforcement in Arizona Superior Court. 

In August 2023, ADEQ filed a motion seeking $600,000 in civil penalties pursuant to the consent judgment. 

In December 2023, GPPI plugged the Senator Mine adit with concrete. In February 2024, ADEQ filed a motion for an order to show cause requiring GPPI and SVG to explain why they should not be held in contempt of court for violating the judgment. On March 19, 2024, the court ordered GPPI to cease earth moving activities at Senator Mine. 

The legal process to address site impacts on water quality is ongoing. Meanwhile, ADEQ has contracted with an environmental remediation company to assess the safety and environmental impacts of the Senator Mine adit and tailings pile. 

Documents

Senator Mine Adit AZPDES Permit | View > 

Senator Mine AZPDES MSGP 

  • Notice of Intent Summary | View >
  • Notice of Intent Certificate | View >

AZPDES Notices of Violation

Consent Order, superseded by the Consent Judgments | View >

Consent Judgments

Court Orders 

SVG

  • June 13, 2024, 288 Letter | View >
  • June 13, 2024, Access Agreement | View >
  • June 25, 2024, 288 Access Order | View >

GPPI

  • June 26, 2024, Access Agreement | View >

Water Quality Assurance Revolving Fund (WQARF) Determination of Emergency