unwanted legacy

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unwanted legacy



The deadly collapse of a Vale SA tailings dam in Brazil is serving as a wake-up call for an industry that regularly cuts costs by storing mining waste in the cheapest possible way.

On top of the 99 dead and the 259 missing, Vale, the world’s largest iron ore producer, could face damages as high as US$7 billion for the current disaster, according to Bloomberg Intelligence

November-2015: Brazil's worst-ever environmental disaster, according to tests by a state water agency

Illegal levels of arsenic and mercury polluted the Rio Doce in the days after a dam burst at an iron-ore mine November-5-2015.

Nearly 60 million cubic meters of mud and mine waste from the accident affected a nearby village, resulting in the pollution of the river valley and the death of around 13 people. Biologists working along the river and coastline have been shocked by the impact of the burst dam - the mud has killed thousands of fish.

Samarco is the mine operator, and its co-owners are BHP Billiton Ltd. and Vale SA.

Source: water-technology.net

When the Valdez oil tanker spilled eleven million gallons of oil off the coast of Alaska, Exxon first refused any comment, then shifted blame to Alaska and the Coast Guard, caused a two-week delay in cleanup, eventually ran $1.8 million worth of ads in 166 newspapers to apologize but not accept responsibility, and never acknowledged the environmental devastation.

Source: James Dale, author of The Obvious, All You Need to Know in Business. Period.
Colorado mine disaster plume flows west toward Grand Canyon

Wednesday's blowout (August 5-2015), at the Gold King Mine in mountains above Silverton, showed the enormity of the problem of leaking old mines. Colorado natural resources officials overseeing old mines told The Denver Post they know of several hundred around the state leaking acid discharges into river headwaters. Cleanup has been done at about 9,000 abandoned mines, but the status of about 14,000 remains uncertain, said Bruce Stover, director of Colorado's inactive mine reclamation program.

Source: Bruce Finley, The Denver Post, August-8-2015.

Animas River

A spill Wednesday August 5, 2015, that sent 1 million gallons of wastewater from an abandoned mine into the Animas River, turning the river orange, set off warnings that contaminants threaten water quality for those downstream.

Photo: Brent Lewis, The Denver Post
Alberta fines Murphy Oil for spill

Alberta has fined a local subsidiary of U.S.-based Murphy Oil Corporation $172,500 (Canadian) for its role in a 9,000-barrel spill in 2015 that went undetected for more than six weeks, the provincial energy regulator said on Tuesday.

The Alberta Energy Regulator (AER) said Murphy Oil Company failed to report the release of condensate and failed to “conduct remedial actions,” which caused damage to public lands near Peace River in northwestern Alberta.

The 2015 spill went undetected from January 15 to March 1, the AER said.

Source: The Globe and Mail, March-1-2017
Contaminated liquid from the Richmond Landfill Site has impacted the local groundwater

Ontario’s Richmond Landfill Site was closed in 2011, but will continue to generate contaminated liquid for decades.

Recent investigations have confirmed that contaminated liquid (called “leachate”) from the Richmond Landfill Site has impacted the local groundwater, moved at least 500 metres onto neighbouring properties, and contaminated nearby residential water wells. This leachate plume contains numerous toxic chemicals, including 1,4-Dioxane, which is a potential carcinogen.

Source: Canadian Environmental Law Association (CELA), June 2015 news bulletin


July-2015: Mount Polley

A tailings pond breach at Imperial Metals' Mount Polley mine sent 17 million cubic metres of polluted water gushing through the Cariboo region in August-2014 and the mine owners have been given a temporary restart permit a year later (July-2015). However the company has yet to finalize a long-term plan for storing waste water.

In addition, Mount Polley’s owner received its permit to operate another mine (the Red Chris Mine) in the headwaters of the Stikine River despite assurances from the British Columbia Minister of Mines that these types of tailings dams would not be used following the disastrous failure of the Mount Polley dam.

Source: InsidePassageWaterkeeper.org


August 7-2014: a toxic leak from Grupo Mexico’s Buenavista copper mine

On August 7-2014 a toxic leak from Grupo Mexico’s Buenavista copper mine contaminated the Bacanuchi and Sonora rivers in northern Mexico; (40,000 cubic metres of copper sulfate acid solution).  Authorities imposed restrictions on the water supply to several towns and cities in northwest Mexico.

Grupo Mexico is the largest mining corporation in Mexico and the third largest copper producer in the world.

Source: CBC


Taxpayers have now pumped $4.5 million dollars into the Tsolum in a desperate fight to bring it back to life

The Tsolum River on Vancouver Island historically provided abundant runs of coho, pink and chum salmon, as well as cutthroat trout and big steelhead.  Eventually, decades of logging and gravel mining began to take their toll.  The river was already suffering when in 1964, the Mt. Washington Copper Company set up in the upper Tsolum watershed.

The company began a small open-pit copper mine near the Tsolum River, which they ran for just three years.  They pulled out completely in 1966.  By 1985, the Tsolum River was pretty much dead.  The fisheries had declined by 90 percent.  The cause?  Acid mine drainage from the long-gone company’s abandoned mine.

Taxpayers have now pumped $4.5 million dollars into the Tsolum in a desperate fight to bring it back to life.  The fish have finally started to return, but hundreds of years from now citizens will still be wrestling with the mine’s toxic legacy.

Source: WildernessCommittee.org, excerpt from Newsletter Vol.31 No.6, summer 2012