Sunday, June 11, 2017

No Metal Mining in Maine

The metal mining bill, LD 820, that was passed by the Maine Legislature is not environmentally protective. It allows contamination of ground water within 100 feet of the "mining area." It allows an open pit of up to 3 acres which is nearly half the size of the disastrous Callahan mine. There is no limit in the bill on the number of shafts or open pits of up to 3 acres, so there could conceivably be many mining areas. There is no satisfactory explanation of how contaminated ground water could be prevented from polluting surrounding waters. 

Celebrants of the passage of the bill, are touting the virtues of "enough up-front money from the mining company to cover a worst-case mining disaster." The money up front will be determined by State environmental agencies (BEP or DEP) which serve at the whim of political powers in office and have shown themselves incapable of writing truly protective regulations for the last 5 years. It drives me to despair remembering that there has never been enough money to repair the damage of a worst-case mining disaster, and that is likely to happen if Bald Mountain is mined. 

Bald mountain is one of the most toxic sites in the U. S., and Maine is one of the wettest states which makes it especially vulnerable to uncontrollable leaching of toxic substances. Catastrophic contamination of the Fish River Chain downstream from a mine at Bald Mountain is to be expected as there are no examples anywhere of metal mining, neither open pit nor shaft, neither traditional nor modern, that does not contaminate surrounding waters. 

Proponents of the bill claim it is the most protective in the United States, and I have no reason to doubt their word, but it is still not protective enough with these problems still remaining. With the current state of technology, a ban on metal mining in Maine is the only legislation that will be protective enough. The issue is not settled. We have not heard the last of it.

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