A civil lawsuit by the District Attorney’s Office’s Environmental Protection Unit against mining company Imerys Minerals California, Inc. came to an end Monday, announced District Attorney Joyce Dudley in a press release.
The lawsuit charged Imerys’ facility one mile south of Lompoc at 2500 San Miguelito Road has twice been “responsible for the leak of approximately 202,000 gallons of non-toxic, non-hazardous, but potentially harmful mining slurry [coal sludge] into the San Miguelito Creek,” read the press release. The plant in Lompoc mines and processes from rock a powder called diatomaceous earth, which is used to make filters and additives for plastics and paints.
In January 2014, the state’s Fish and Wildlife department and the State Water Resources Control Board investigated two reported leaks of “diatomaceous earth slurry,” a muddy mining by-product of water and dust, into the creek. The two agencies discovered a defective pump and its broken shutoff system caused two leaks.
As part of the case’s settlement, Imerys must pay $350,000 in civil penalties, which will be used to fund the three agencies’ environmental and consumer protection units. Additionally, the mining company is required to update the Lompoc plant’s pumping and monitoring systems, undergo “authorized inspections by regulatory personnel,” and perform approved restoration of the San Miguelito Creek area.