Duty to Warn

 By Gary G. Kohls, MD

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Requesting honest information from the Minnesota DNR, the Minnesota PCA and the US Forest Service regarding the latest PolyMet project permit application:

Please respond to the concerned folks to which this email has been cc’ed, all the details of the permit that the foreign corporation Glencore has submitted to the MNDNR, MNPCA, or US Forest Service concerning the establishment and maintainance of their enormously dangerous, potentially catastrophic, toxic tailings lagoon, an entity that seems to have been conveniently ignored by the media cheerleaders and even you regulatory entities.

I don’t recall seeing any permit application published for the eventual 250 foot high earthen dams that will hold back for eternity the tens of millions of cubic meters of poisonous liquid sludge that the copper/nickel/sulfuric acid mine will inevitably produce (and need to be stored).

Anybody with any awareness of the risks of the toxic metal and sulfuric acid recognizes that the tailings lagoon MUST be the center of discussion. So far it is rarely mentioned in the occasional news bulletins.

Every copper/nickel liquid tailings pond holds the 99.8% mine waste plus the liquids that is used to pipe the dissolved powder from the processing plant to the pond.

Every copper/nickel sulfide mine in the history of mining has leaked/leached poisons into the groundwater, onto adjacent lands and into the downstream environment. This happens at all copper mine sites that are located in watery environments such as northern Minnesota.

Just read the history of the first ancient copper/sulfide mine at Rio Tinto, Spain. Hundreds of years after these ancient mines closed, the mine area, including the downstream areas is still uninhabitable, the water is undrinkable and the downstream area is essentially incompatible with life. The pH of the immediate downstream rivers remains at 2.5 even hundreds of years after the mine was closed!

I invite everybody concerned to read the article that I wrote a few years ago about the Rio Tinto mining corporation’s oldest copper mine in Rio Tinto river area of Spain. It has been published on many websites around the world. The article is titled:“Rio Tinto (the River, the Mine and the Corporation): Still Polluting After All These Years”. The article is posted at: http://duluthreader.com/articles/2016/07/13/7566_rio_tinto_the_river_the_mine_and_the_corporation

An impressive rendering of another article that I wrote about the inevitable and eternal toxicity of copper mining can be found at https://www.transcend.org/tms/2017/09/sample-comments-regarding-polymets-permit-application-to-construct-a-copper-mining-tailings-lagoon-in-northern-minnesota/.

The Transcend Media version has many important videos about copper mining dangers, plus links to eyewitness accounts of the Mount Polley disaster, which could easily foreshadow what might easily happen to the St Louis River and downstream environs if copper mining in northeast Minnesota is allowed to proceed.

Click on the youtube videos linked at the Transcend website. If any honest person with an open mind studies those videos with any thoroughness – he or she will have no option but to join the resistance movement.

Earthen dams are obviously highly susceptable to dissolving or bursting or over-topping in any number of scenarios, particularly when one of the increasingly common deluges of rain happens in the vicinity of the dam, a likelihood increasingly likely in the current – and future – global climate change realities.

If allowed to be built, the PolyMet and all the future copper/sulfide tailings pond’s containment dams will be an eternal threat to the existence of human life, wildlife, fish, plant life and assorted water-drinkers downstream.

Copper mining waste sludge ponds have to be built close enough to the mine processing plants, so that the very sabotagable pipelines are able pump the waste products quickly and efficiently. The foreign multinational mining mega-corporations Glencore and Antofagasta will be responsible for the entire process, but will severely restrict access to the sites.

The public will face seriously-enforced “Danger: No Trespassing” warning signs everywhere in the area. Secrecy will abound, because there will be so much (illegal?) activity that needs to be hidden from the public. (Antofagasta, by the way, is the Chilean owner of the Twin Metals copper mine that has been proposed for an area abutting a fresh water lake that is adjacent to the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness!!)

The inevitable leakage (sudden or gradual) of those waste dumps represents the worst case scenario for NE Minnesota’s future, for, if and when they burst, dissolve, collapse or otherwise lea, trillions of dollars worth of Minnesota’s priceless environment will be poisoned and lost forever.

PolyMet/Glencore must be forced to thoroughly address those concerns, but they will find it very difficult to do without lying to us potential victims of their plans. They will have to lie because many of us know about the true (and often hidden) history of copper mining.

Neither of the two aforementioned multinational mining corporations (and neither of the two foreign (Canadian) Penny Stock mining companies that started the permitting process for their multinational senior mining companies) want us Minnesotans to think about tailings ponds. For some very good reasons.

Neither mining company will be able to afford putting into an escrow account the hundreds of billions (perhaps trillions?) of dollars that it will take to remediate what is obviously irremediable at any price. How do you place a price tag on an irretreviably polluted St Louis River and Lake Superior and the drinking water resources that will be forever poisoned and thus to dangerous to drink?

And we have yet to hear from those hundreds of millions of Downstreamers that rely on the water and the habitat surrounding the five Great Lakes. They deserve to weigh in on the debate. In fact they probably deserve full veto power over this dangerous scheme.

 

Gary G. Kohls, MD, the author of the Duluth Reader’s Duty to Warn weekly columns and a down-winder, down-streamer from Duluth, MN

 

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