Mining tops toxic list

  NATION


For the first time, the Environmental Protection Agency's annual inventory of industrial toxic releases included hardrock mining and six other industries - and the newcomers stole the show.


With the addition of these industries to the Toxics Release Inventory (HCN, 9/16/96), reported toxic releases in the United States nearly tripled, increasing from 2.6 to 7.3 billion pounds, 3.5 billion pounds of which came from hardrock mining. "It demonstrates to the public what they didn't know before - the hardrock-mining industry is the biggest polluter in the country," says Alan Septoff of the Mineral Policy Center in Washington, D.C.


Industry representatives don't deny the charge, although they say most of the toxins released occur naturally in the rock being mined. "The only way to reduce the numbers (of toxins) is to mine less," says Doug Hock, a spokesman for Newmont Mining Corporation.


Regardless of their natural origins, arsenic, lead and mercury are only toxic when disturbed, Septoff says. "When it's in the ground before it's mined, it isn't threatening anybody."


Of all the toxins reported by the mines, the EPA says mercury releases are the most alarming. "The news about the mercury air emissions was the biggest surprise that came from the information from the mining industry," says Adam Browning, the inventory's program manager for EPA Region 9. He says seven gold mines in Nevada reported releases of mercury, and four of those released a combined 13,560 pounds directly into the air. Mercury gains toxicity as it travels up the food chain and can cause neurological disorders in humans and wildlife.


Because such high mercury emissions were not expected, no federal regulations exist to prevent the mining industry from releasing more mercury into the air. "The mining industry has never been called upon to reduce its toxic production," Septoff of the Mineral Policy Center says. "Until they have an incentive ... it doesn't pay them to act responsibly." The TRI can be found on the Environmental Protection Agency's Web site at http://www.epa.gov/tri.


High Country News Classifieds
  • SPORTING COMMUNICATIONS COORDINATOR
    To advance our mission, we are seeking a full-time Sporting Communications Coordinator to join our team, preferably in Montana or Colorado. (Due to COVID-19 all...
  • THE LAND DESK: A PUBLIC LANDS NEWSLETTER
    Western lands and communities--in context--delivered to your inbox 3x/week. From award-winning journalist and HCN contributor, Jonathan P. Thompson. $6/month; $60/year.
  • CONSERVATIONIST? IRRIGABLE LAND?
    Stellar seed-saving NGO is available to serious partner. Package must include financial support. Details: http://seeds.ojaidigital.net.
  • EXPERT LAND STEWART
    Available for site conservator, property manager. View resume at http://skills.ojadigital.net.
  • ANCESTRAL LANDS ADMINISTRATIVE MANAGER
    Starting Salary: Grade C, $19.00 to 24.00 per/hour Location: Albuquerque or Gallup, NM Status: Full-Time, Non-Exempt Benefit Eligible: Full Benefits Eligible per Personnel Policies Program...
  • GRAND CANYON DIRECTOR
    The Grand Canyon director, with the Grand Canyon manager, conservation director, and other staff, envisions, prioritizes, and implements strategies for the Grand Canyon Trust's work...
  • ADMINISTRATIVE ASSISTANT
    Great Old Broads for Wilderness seeks a part-time Administrative Assistant to support the organization's general operations. This includes phone and email communications, office correspondence and...
  • HISTORIC LODGE AND RESTAURANT - FULLY EQUIPPED
    Built in 1901, The Crazy Mountain Inn has 11 guest rooms in a town-center building on 7 city lots (.58 acres). The inn and restaurant...
  • ONE WILL: THREE WIVES
    by Edith Tarbescu. "One Will: Three Wives" is packed with a large array of interesting suspects, all of whom could be a murderer ... a...
  • PROGRAM DIRECTOR, SALAZAR CENTER FOR NORTH AMERICAN CONSERVATION
    The Program Director will oversee the programmatic initiatives of The Salazar Center, working closely with the Center's Director and staff to engage the world's leading...
  • WILDEARTH GUARDIANS - WILD PLACES PROGRAM DIRECTOR
    Salary Range: $70,000-$80,000. Location: Denver, CO, Portland, OR, Seattle, WA, Missoula, MT or potentially elsewhere for the right person. Application Review: on a rolling basis....
  • RIVER EDUCATOR/GUIDE + TRIP LEADER
    Position Description: Full-time seasonal positions (mid-March through October) Organizational Background: Colorado Canyons Association (CCA) is a 10 year old nonprofit organization fostering community stewardship of...
  • BOOKKEEPER/ADMINISTRATIVE ASSISTANT
    Position Description: Part-time, year-round bookkeeping and administration position (12 - 16 hours/week) $16 - $18/hour DOE Organizational Background: Colorado Canyons Association (CCA) is a 10...
  • LAND STEWARD
    San Isabel Land Protection Trust seeks a full-time Land Steward to manage and oversee its conservation easement monitoring and stewardship program for 42,437 acres in...
  • EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR
    Ventana Wilderness Alliance is seeking an experienced forward-facing public land conservation leader to serve as its Executive Director. The mission of the Ventana Wilderness Alliance...
  • COMMUNICATIONS AND DEVELOPMENT DIRECTOR
    The Quivira Coalition (www.quiviracoaltion.org) is a Santa Fe-based nonprofit that builds resilience on arid working lands. We foster ecological, economic, and social health through education,...
  • GRANT WRITER
    "We all love this place we call Montana. We believe that land and water and air are not ours to despoil, but ours to steward...
  • DEVELOPMENT DIRECTOR
    The Development Director is responsible for organizing and launching a coherent set of development activities to build support for the Natural History Institute's programs and...
  • WILDLIFE PROJECT COORDINATOR
    Founded in 1936, the National Wildlife Federation (NWF or Federation) is America's largest and most trusted grassroots conservation organization with 53 state/territorial affiliates and more...
  • EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR
    The Cinnabar Foundation helps protect and conserve water, wildlife and wild lands in Montana and the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem by supporting organizations and people who...