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PolyMet using state’s waters as testing ground

Are the waters of Northeastern Minnesota less precious than those of Wisconsin?

Wisconsin will not allow sulfide ore mining until it can be proven that it can be done without harming the environment. No mining company has done that.

The waters of Northeastern Minnesota could be a testing ground for PolyMet’s unproven methods. The damage to our environment and the taxpayers’ cost for cleanup could last decades longer than the jobs.

Mary Thompson

Duluth

1 comment to PolyMet using state’s waters as testing ground

  • Karl Everett

    I recently viewed a presentation “Precious Waters” by Friends of the Boundary Waters Wilderness and was very surprised to see a very one-sided political presentation that uses Hollywood techniques based on emotions, not scientific facts. They refer to decades old past mining practices from the turn of the century that pre-date current successful mining reclamation techniques. All industry has improved environmental practices over the last four decades after legislation and the National Environmental Policy Act and this includes the mining industry from surface coal, metal and non-metal mining and reclamation practices. Successful metal/ sulfide mining and reclamation has been demonstrated in recent decades, including sulfide metal mining in Wisconsin and other examples. A Wisconsin DNR report on the reclamation of the non-ferrous sulfide mine and reclamation activities that states “While there are other examples of successfully operated and reclaimed metal mines in Wisconsin, the Flambeau Mine near Ladysmith in Rusk County is an example of a successfully operated metallic mineral mine that was permitted, constructed, operated and reclaimed under the State’s existing regulatory framework.” The Wisconsin DNR report on the Flambeau Mine located on the DNR website.

    http://www.dnr.state.wi.us/org/aw/wm/mining/metallic/flambeau/index.htm

    According to the Wisconsin DNR: “Throughout the life of the project, the company has remained in substantial compliance with all permit conditions and applicable standards.”

    “There were no exceedances of any effluent (treated wastewater) limits during the period of discharge. Monitoring of water quality and other characteristics in the Flambeau River similarly did not show any impacts from the effluent discharge.”

    The “Precious Waters” film used emotional testimonies from Tower residents, a retired miner and his wife, shown paddling around in an aluminum canoe (where do they mine aluminum?), complaining how he knows as a former miner that the previous Erie/LTV tailings pond leaks. The fact is that this tailings pond structure has pervious sandy earthen embankments that never were designed to retain water. PolyMet’s EIS says “If the tailings are ultimately determined to be reactive, the company has proposed to line Cells 1E and 2E for the entire life of the operation to prevent reactive runoff from seeping into the ground and surrounding environment. Any discharge from the tailings basin would be monitored and if necessary, directed to a water treatment plant for appropriate treatment prior to discharge. Potential impacts and mitigation measures of this alternative will be included in the EIS.” quote from EIS scoping study.

    There are as examples in the film using emotional techniques with a resort owner complaining of the possibility to “hear” the mining operation in the Boundary Waters when they have motorboats that they rent touring out in front of their facility. The only current environmental project under review by DNR is the PolyMet site. They aren’t mining in the Boundary Waters and the mine site is at least twenty miles away. If they can hear that operation in Canoe Country their hearing is better than Dr. Seuss’s Horton. The PolyMet site is using the former LTV iron-mining site, their mine development is farther away from the BWCA that the existing taconite operations, and it isn’t even in the same drainage basin. The water flows toward the St. Louis River and the BWCA / Quetico is on the other side of the continental divide. http://files.dnr.state.mn.us/input/environmentalreview/polymet/draft_eis/figures/executive_summary_figures.pdf

    I’m an avid canoeist and have used the BWCAW and Quetico for my annual canoe trips over the past half-century. I’m in favor of the environmentally responsible development of the mineral resources, and I believe that there currently is a regulatory system in place to make sure that our environmental permitting and reclamation procedures maintain the quality of the environment in the Boundary Waters for the next millennium.

    I am disappointed that Ely.com only presents one side of the message and recommend that present both sides of the issue.

    Attached are some suggested addition websites to post on your site to balance the sulfide mining message.

    http://www.dnr.state.wi.us/org/aw/wm/mining/metallic/flambeau/index.htm

    http://www.flambeaumine.com/

    http://files.dnr.state.mn.us/input/environmentalreview/polymet/draft_eis/figures/executive_summary_figures.pdf

    http://www.miningminnesota.com/nrri_now.pdf

    http://www.dnr.state.mn.us/input/environmentalreview/polymet/eis_toc.html

    http://www.nrri.umn.edu/news/May%2009/mining_economic_impact.pdf

    Sincerely,

    Karl D. Everett, PE

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