MAC: Mines and Communities

Mining - the biggest toxic polluter in USA

Published by MAC on 2003-06-30

Mining - the biggest toxic polluter in USA

Once again, the Bush administration is under fire for failing to agree to proposed new international standards for mercury reduction. It is also supporting the domestic coal industry in the face of overhwelming evidence of the dangers of mercury missions from coal-fired plants

What's more, the US administration is allowing mining companies to forgo the reporting of toxic chemicals present in their waste rock dumps. This, say critics, could result in the concealment of evidence of up to half the pollution caused by the mining industry.

Although the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) claims that US toxic releases decreased in 2001, this ignores the lower thresholds being applied to a variety of injurious chemicals.

In 2001, as in previous years, the mining industry proved to be the biggest single source of toxic releases in the country, with copper, zinc, lead and mercury posing the heaviest risks.

Rio Tinto once again was the country's biggest single toxic culprit - due to its huge Bingham Canyon mine in Utah (also the state with the highest levels of pollution). Second in line came Cominco's Red Dog mine in Alaska, with Barrick running third, thanks to its Goldstrike operations in Nevada.

Here we post a summary of the TRI (Toxi Releases Inventory) of the EPA and a TRI report on the recent court case which, while confirming more stringent conditions for emissions reporting from mines, also permlts the lowering of a critical threshold chemicals in waste rock.

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