The Jerritt Canyon mining and milling operations just south of the Idaho border have been shut down after it was found this gold operation was emitting 90 times as much mercury as your typical large coal-fired power plant.

Mercury pollution is one of the major arguments against coal-fired power plants.

Mercury pollution investigation shuts down Nevada gold mine near Idaho border. Rocky Barker, Idaho Statesman.

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Kudos to the Idaho Conservation League for helping stop this outrageous poisoning of Idaho.

[Justin] Hayes’ activism, tenacity forces mercury polluter to close. Letters from the West. Rocky Barker.

Added Aug. 25. Editorial from the Times-News. There’s a little less mercury to worry about today.

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About The Author

Ralph Maughan

Dr. Ralph Maughan is professor emeritus of political science at Idaho State University with specialties in natural resource politics, public opinion, interest groups, political parties, voting and elections. Aside from academic publications, he is author or co-author of three hiking/backpacking guides, and he is President of the Western Watersheds Project.

8 Responses to Mercury pollution investigation shuts down Nevada gold mine near Idaho border

  1. avatar john weis says:

    Isn’t the prevailing wind to Utah?

  2. avatar matt bullard says:

    Not all the time. There have been very detailed meteorological studies conducted by the Idaho Department of Environmental Quality and INL that have specifically pinpointed the source of the elevated mercury emissions to the region of Nevada where these mines are located. Utah, most likely, gets a significant dose from these mines as well, under certain atmospheric conditions.

  3. The Jerritt Canyon mine is just south of the Idaho border. The slightest deviation from due west blows it across southern Idaho.

    I’m sure the mercury readings are elevated in Utah too.

    There they have found creek and stream and stream with too much mercury in the fish.

  4. avatar Monty says:

    To add insult to injury, it is difficult to accept the reality that much of the mined gold is for “human peacocks”.

  5. avatar SmokyMtMan says:

    Monty,

    Good point. What a severe and ridiculous price to pay for wearing a shiny metal in your ear or on your finger. How can a reasonable person think these environmental trade-offs are worth it?

    Mercury poses its most severe and significant risks to developing children and pregnant women. You would think that alone would ensure we reasonably attempt to reduce mercury as much as possible in our environment.

  6. avatar JEFF E says:

    I used to fish the Salmon Falls reservoir on a very regular basis. 11 different game fish. none to few carp or Utah chub. Now it is completely polluted with mercury most likely from this mine.
    also this reservoir is owned and managed by a farmers consortium and the water is used exclusively for that. so it is my guess that this mercury is in the food chain at several levels.

  7. avatar SmokyMtMan says:

    Mercury is why I stopped eating fish years ago. I worked in a restaurant when swordfish mercury levels went through the roof.

    Did it stop the sale of swordfish? Nope. The government simply altered the acceptable level of mercury so the fishing industry wouldn’t be financially harmed. And the tests for mercury on the fish we import are performed by a lab picked by the fish catcher/importer. Also, the fish importer picks the fish that are sampled for mercury!

    I haven’t eaten fish for a long time. Every water source, even the remote arctic, is polluted with chemicals. You do not require fish of any kind to maintain a healthy and fully balanced diet.

    Also, I read a significant amount of our mercury pollution actually drifts on the winds from Asia. It’s called “atmospheric transport”. Even if we eradicate all mercury sources here in the U.S., we will still have mercury raining from the skies.

    Earth gets smaller every day.

  8. avatar Alan says:

    Yes, and the coal just keeps moving to Georgia’s coal-fired power plants and eleswhere, too, fom the Powder River basin.

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‎"At some point we must draw a line across the ground of our home and our being, drive a spear into the land and say to the bulldozers, earthmovers, government and corporations, “thus far and no further.” If we do not, we shall later feel, instead of pride, the regret of Thoreau, that good but overly-bookish man, who wrote, near the end of his life, “If I repent of anything it is likely to be my good behaviour."

~ Edward Abbey

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