It's the pits

  Summo USA Corp. hopes to extract 34 million pounds of copper each year over a 10-year period from the Lisbon Valley southeast of Moab, Utah. The operation would include four open-pit mines as well as waste-rock dumps and a processing plant on 1,030 acres of public, state and private lands. According to a draft environmental impact statement, the Lisbon Valley is the site of previous copper and uranium mining, and recreational opportunities and visual qualities are "not outstanding." Bureau of Land Management project coordinator Lynn Jackson reports little environmental criticism of the proposal: "They are not dead set against it as long as we are doing everything right." Some nearby residents, however, say that the draft EIS fails to adequately address questions of noise, traffic, air quality and chemical spills. Because Summo Corp. doesn't plan to refill the open pits after mining is completed, Moab resident Kevin Walker says that water seeping into the pits could create "toxic lakes." Although Summo claims the cost of backfilling would kill the operation, BLM has another reason for allowing the pits to remain open: filling them with mine rubble could poison groundwater in the area. The deadline for public comment on the proposal is July 15; for a copy of the draft EIS or further information, contact Lynn Jackson at 801/ 259-6111. Send written comments to Kate Kitchell, BLM District Manager, 82 East Dogwood, Moab, Utah 84532.