Demolishing MiningTruth’s Credibility

Kathryn Hoffman’s op-ed is littered with half-truths, irrelevancies and distortions. Here’s an example:

Sulfide mines have a long record of polluting surrounding lakes, rivers, streams and groundwater with mercury, acid mine drainage and toxic metals. Mines proposed in Minnesota would pose risks to some of our most important water resources such as Lake Superior and the Boundary Waters.

 

Evidence shows that children in northern Minnesota already are exposed to higher levels of mercury than in other parts of the state. Any increased risk to these children would be unacceptable.

There’s no question that mining disturbs the earth’s natural state. Whatever the human activity is, it potentially damages the earth as defined by MiningTruth’s activists. The question then becomes what society gets in exchange for temporarily disturbing the planet.

That said, the doomsday picture that MiningTruth paints isn’t exactly accurate. First, recent precious metal mines don’t pollute like the mines of 50 years ago. The advances have been gigantic. Second, most precious metals mining companies have to live up to the standars set by corporations like Kennecott Mining.

In this op-ed, MiningTruth proposes an impossible standard:

When a sulfide mine closes in Minnesota, the mining company is supposed to reclaim the area and leave it so that it doesn’t need any additional maintenance. Will that rule be enforced?

Minnesota’s government shouldn’t allow mines that are likely to produce pollution and require water treatment for 50, 100, 250 or more years after they stop mining.

I said earlier that there’s never been a mine that didn’t produce pollution while it was in production. Saying that Minnesota shouldn’t allow mines if they pollute is saying Minnesota shouldn’t allow mining. Period. That’s MiningTruth’s goal. Their website is filled with BS, starting with this video:

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The narrator’s ominous-sounding voice delivers the message that “No sulfide mine has ever operated without polluting lakes and rivers.” What the narrator didn’t tell people is that restoration is quite possible. In fact, restoration’s the norm. Kennecott Mining’s website explains in detail that it’s quite possible to restore the land:

In 1936, Kennecott constructed evaporation ponds to store and evaporate mine water originating from the Bingham Canyon watershed. Over time, additional ponds were constructed to increase capacity, and the area became known as the South Jordan Evaporation Ponds (SJEP). The ponds were used for mine water until 1965 and for periodic storage of runoff water until 1987. SJEP use was discontinued in 1987.

Studies in the early 1990s concluded that there were elevated levels of heavy metals in the soil where the holding ponds had been located. Kennecott took responsibility for the impacts and agreed to reclaim and remediate the SJEP area. The removal work was undertaken pursuant to an EPA Administrative Order on Consent (AOC).

A massive clean-up operation began in 1994 involving the removal of pond sediment and six additional inches of underlying native soil. The material removed from Daybreak was permanently relocated to the Kennecott Blue Water Repository as part of the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA) clean up. At this time, some sediment, with a low concentration of lead and arsenic but an elevated sulfate concentration were consolidated onsite and capped with topsoil and re-vegetated. In 2001, the EPA issued a Record of Decision stating that the removal action adequately satisfied the remedial objectives and EPA determined that no further action was required. An Operation and Maintenance Plan (O&M Plan) was established to address further management of the consolidation site.

Pursuant to agreements between the EPA, UDEQ and Kennecott, Kennecott began removing the remaining sediments at the consolidation site under the guideline of the O&M Plan. In 2006, Kennecott, the EPA and the UDEQ entered into an agreement solidifying the unrestricted residential and commercial use clean-up standards for the entire site.

In early 2007, the consolidated pond sediment removal project was completed. In 2008, the EPA and UDEQ issued a Consent Decree for the ground water cleanup efforts.

Kennecott met the EPA’s high standards for cleaning up the mining site. In addition to that, they initiated a plan that “integrates sustainable landscape practices into the community in a number of ways.” That’s only part of Kennecott’s story. Here’s another part of Kennecott’s story:

Storm water runoff is collected in a variety of ways and filters down to recharge the aquifer beneath Daybreak. Residents are encouraged to plant a water wise landscape, limit turf areas that require a lot of supplemental water, and improve soil to better absorb water and encourage deeper roots. A list of plants that grow well at Daybreak is available through the Daybreak Community Association.

Gardening is encouraged at Daybreak as a means of producing sustainable food supplies. Gardening opportunities are available to Daybreak residents at their home or at one of the “Community Gardens,” which have been constructed throughout Daybreak.

MiningTruth is hinting that evil multinational corporations are intent on destroying the Boundary Waters and Superior National Forest. Despite Kennecott’s record of success, MiningTruth insists that “sulfide mining” will destroy the fragile BWCAW ecosystem. Kennecott’s Daybreak restoration proves that restoration is quite possible.

What’s noteworthy is that almost everyone on MiningTruth’s Board of Directors lives in the Twin Cities. Only one member of the board lives in northern Minnesota. It’s also noteworthy that a major part of MiningTruth’s funding comes from Aleda Messinger, the same lady who funds the DFL and the Alliance for a Better Minnesota. ABM has a history of smearing people it disagrees with with half-truths and outright lies.

It isn’t wise for MiningTruth to follow in ABM’s practice of waging smear campaigns. Apparently, ABM and MiningTruth think they can continue with their smear campaigns with impunity. As I’ve clearly shown, MiningTruth shouldn’t be trusted because they won’t tell the truth.

Comments welcome at Let Freedom Ring.