Thursday, March 31, 2011

Coeur d'Alene Mining Waste a Stark Reminder of the Devastation Left Behind

With the EPA in the process of reviewing the impact of pebble mine on the Bristol Bay region, it is important to take a look at the track record of mining operations in the US and the impacts we're living with today. Having realistic expectations is the first step towards making a reasonable assessment of whether or not Pebble Mine poses a long term ecological threat to the region, and unfortunately for the mining companies their predecessors have given opponents plenty of ammunition against their industry. Throughout the US and Canada decommissioned mines and the tailings they've left behind continue to leach toxic heavy metals into surface and ground water every year, devastating the communities that depend on them. Among the more recent cases comes from Northern Idaho where large floods this winter pushed an estimated 352,000 pounds of lead into Lake Coeur d'Alene. Mining wastes last forever and unfortunately the companies that left them there are more often than not long gone by the time the true costs of the extraction are being felt by local communities and watersheds. This leaves tax payers on the hook for cleaning up the hazardous waste, or alternatively if nothing is done, allows huge amounts of toxins and heavy metals to end up in our watersheds. More information in the Seattle Times:

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