The US Department of Justice Monday filed a complaint against landowner Stephen Elder who owns the Lava Cap Mine.
Rusty Harris-Bishop is with the US Environmental Protection Agency. He says they became aware of the site about a decade ago after more than 10,000 cubic yards of arsenic-contaminated rubble spilled into a nearby creek.
"There was a large pile of tailings that were held back by a log dam that deteriorated over time and in January of 1997 it partially collapsed releasing a large amount of tailings down a creek and all the way down to Lost Lake."
After that incident, the mine was placed on the federal government’s Superfund list of hazardous waste sites.
But the landowner says he shouldn’t be fined for pollution that was created back during the Gold Rush-era.