XS Platinum mine manager convicted of Clean Water Act violations

Old dredge at Platinum in 2002. (Photo by Dean Swope, KYUK - Bethel)
Old dredge at Platinum in 2002. (Photo by Dean Swope, KYUK – Bethel)

A jury has convicted 57-year-old James Slade of violating the Federal Clean Water Act.

U.S. Attorney Karen Loeffler made the announcement after a two-week trial.

Slade was Chief Operating Officer for XS Platinum during the events.

He’s charged with two counts of violating clean-water regulations by polluting the Salmon River, according to a press release from the U.S. district attorney’s office.

Federal prosecutors accused XS Platinum Inc., its executives and on-site managers of violating the Clean Water Act when they increased efforts to recover platinum from an old mine on the edge of Kuskokwim Bay, from 2010-2011.

The operation allowed dirty water in a pond to enter the Salmon River, according to prosecutors. The ponds were not lined to prevent waste from leaking into the ground and nearby streams.

The wastewater turned the river, “from crystal clear to dirty brown.”

This caused the water turbidity, or its cloudiness, to be 200 times the amount permitted under federal law.

XS Platinum, Inc., is no longer operating. It’s owned by an offshore company and only registered in name in Delaware.

Slade is the third XS Platinum mine manager to be convicted in this case. The other two

managers are Australian citizens and refuse to return to the U.S. to stand trial.

Slade is Canadian and has had his passport revoked and must stay in the U.S. for sentencing.

His sentencing hearing is scheduled for next month, on Nov. 12.