Why won’t Leviathan Mine try our process?
The principals of our company, HPT Research, Inc., have followed with great interest The Record-Courier’s articles on the Leviathan Mine. This is a subject “near and dear” to our heart because we have been attempting to conduct an “on-site” demonstration of our Acid Mine Drainage (AMD) Treatment Process for more than a year.
HPT has third party-verified bench test results, which have demonstrated that we can not only treat the Leviathan AMD to meet EPA discharge requirements, but frequently our product water exceeds federal drinking water standards. The Lahontan staff, however, have steadfastly refused to honor a commitment they made to our company last year to demonstrate the capacity of our system at the Leviathan site. We are running out of time this year, due to weather concerns, and we believe the “stonewalling” which has prevented us from bringing in our fully portable system, totally at our company’s expense, is being conducted by Lahontan to prevent the possibility that our system will out-perform the biphasic system they are attempting to implement at taxpayers’ expense.
A few points about the Biphasic System:
– It is basically 100-year-old conventional AMD treatment technology with a new name. The primary difference between the Leviathan Mine application and earlier uses is that Leviathan’s system utilizes two successive lime treatments in an effort to remove toxic metals. In doing so, the biphasic process actually doubles the amounts of hazardous solid lime sludge that must be hauled away, adding substantially to overall costs.
– This biphasic process does not address the removal of toxic sulfate contamination from the Leviathan AMD. As a consequence, it does not come close to meeting the California Department of Fish and Game’s standard of 500 ppm (parts per million). Why is the Fish and Game standard being ignored at this site?
A few points about HPT’s Process:
– HPT’s AMD treatment process has bench (lab) test results indicating removal of all toxic metals and sulfates to levels which exceed federal drinking water standards.
– HPT has invited third-party testers from Lawrence Livermore Laboratory and Cal State University-Fresno to validate the testing process and results once HPT is set up on site. HPT has rented equipment to address every potential ingress/egress obstacle, has created safety plans for every contingency and has dedicated the entire company’s resources to this demonstration. No state or federal funds are involved in any way.
A few key questions about the Lahontan Biphasic Process:
– Why are discharge specifications being raised at the site? Who is changing these specifications? Is it because the Lahontan system cannot reach original discharge levels?
– Why is the discharge sample test station for the biphasic system located approximately two (2) miles below the mine site, at a point below where the non-polluted stream enters the polluted stream?
This is a classic example of the “solution by dilution” approach. We are aware of at least one instance, in Stockton, where a private industry principal was engaged in this type of activity and was fined and incarcerated for the transgression.
HPT has records of exchanges with the Lahontan staff, which date back to early 1998, where Lahontan was made aware of the HPT process. Invitations were extended to demonstrate on site on numerous occasions, only to be withdrawn or postponed indefinitely. As recently as Tuesday, Sept. 7, several HPT principals, their consultant (Alan Hill) and Michelle Rochon of California State Sen. Tim Leslie’s office met with Mr. Harold Singer to attempt to reach a decision on a specific date to permit HPT’s demonstration. Mr. Singer continues to provide “roadblocks,” which HPT has repeatedly demonstrated can be overcome at HPT’s expense. What does Lahontan fear about HPT’s system?
– Editor’s note: David K. Milton is executive vice president of HPT Research, Inc., Grass Valley, Calif.