Mercury pollution investigation shuts down Nevada gold mine near Idaho border

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.





  1. john weis Avatar
    john weis

    Isn’t the prevailing wind to Utah?

  2. matt bullard Avatar
    matt bullard

    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. Ralph Maughan Avatar

    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. Monty Avatar

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

  5. SmokyMtMan Avatar


    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. JEFF E Avatar
    JEFF E

    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. SmokyMtMan Avatar

    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. Alan Avatar

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


Dr. Ralph Maughan is professor emeritus of political science at Idaho State University. He was a Western Watersheds Project Board Member off and on for many years, and was also its President for several years. For a long time he produced Ralph Maughan’s Wolf Report. He was a founder of the Greater Yellowstone Coalition. He and Jackie Johnson Maughan wrote three editions of “Hiking Idaho.” He also wrote “Beyond the Tetons” and “Backpacking Wyoming’s Teton and Washakie Wilderness.” He created and is the administrator of The Wildlife News.

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