“Cleanup” worsens selenium contamination at Smoky Canyon

Poisonous legacy of phosphate mining in SE Idaho not contained-

One issue I wish folks would follow most closly is the massive contamination of soil and water by phosphate mining in the big Western phosphate field centered in SE Idaho.

The one organization working hard on this and doing a good job is the Greater Yellowstone Coalition, which has devoted many staff and resources pushing for cleanup and preventing expansion of the mines until some cleanup success is achieved.

This is a big threat to fish, wildlife, and drinking water along the Idaho/Wyoming border.

Story by the GYC. “Cleanup” worsens selenium contamination at Smoky Canyon.

Recently even the Pocatello, Idaho State Journal, a city where phosphate processing produces quite a few well paying jobs, editorialized against the lack of successful cleanup.



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  1. kt Avatar

    Gee – How much of that pollution is caused by Simplot phosphate operations? How much will Simplot’s phosphate pollution Footprint expand with new mining in southeast Idaho? And how much might Simplot be paying U. S. taxpayers for mining phosphate reserves on public land?

    AND in Idaho Butch Otter, Simplot’s ex-son-in-law yanks the strings of the state agencies like DEQ. This is the Butch Otter who went on the Give-Us (Simplot)-Your-Phosphate trip to Cuba not long after becoming Governor – a trip “trade mission” paid for on the state’s dime. Sure, at the time, there was talk of selling wheat or something – but an underlying motive was to enrich the coffers of Simplot Ag.

    Phosphate pollution. To grow aquifer-sucking feedlot and range beef “finishing” cow food. To increase cow pollution of air and water and feed global warming. Nice little corporate circle of depletion, pollution, and toxins centered around killer cows …

    And Simplot runs and profits from the whole little pollution-spewing planet-killing system.

  2. Ralph Maughan Avatar

    If you look at the intense politics behind the expansion of the Smoky Canyon phosphate pit, I think the Simplot Corporation is more interested in this than their many cattle operations in Idaho and Nevada.

  3. Elkchaser Avatar

    I wouldn’t jump on the band wagon so fast. I would like to see the actual data from GYC on this claim before making judgement. Just because they are GYC doesn’t mean that their claims are 100% believable and the data wasn’t “massaged.” To my knowledge ISJ is the only area paper to run this story which makes me suspicious that the others folks did their homework and saw that the story wasn’t near as factual as it may seem.

  4. Ralph Maughan Avatar


    We’re a bit isolated here in Pocatello, and people joke it’s just “paranoia on the Portneuf” [River]. There are not any newspapers over here on-line for free to link to.

    This is solid data. I hope to find a link to it that gives folks a chance to judge.

  5. Elkchaser Avatar

    Isolated or not, ISJ sure seems to run with marginal stories on all kinds of topics. Major, substantiated articles typically will also hit the papers in the intermountain region. I look forward to seeing the data.


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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Ralph Maughan