Monthly Archives: January 2012

{not in my backyard}

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This post is in response to the Oregonian article:

Malheur County Targeted for Gold,
Uranium Mines

So we have an Austrailian based company, and a subsidiary company owned by Canadians
trying to chemically extract resources from rural areas of Oregon.

Areas of Oregon which have a colorful history of mining—history which hasn’t been too kind to the environment nor minority populations. To this day, it’s quite obvious where the Sumpter Valley Gold Dredge operated in Northeast Oregon, the piles of unearthed rock still remain. And while ecosystems have formed around the new landscape, I for one am completely unconvinced that chemical mining would have any less of an irreversible environmental impact.

Let’s Talk Uranium:

“Tuttle, spokesman for the Portland-based Center for Environmental Equity, foresees environmental problems.

The likelihood of sulfuric acid being used in processing the ore means it could remain in the mine tailings after milling, he said. The snag is that sulfuric acid tends to continuously leach out heavy metals that occur naturally
in waste rock and tailings, contaminating ground water.

‘Just because you are through with the processing, years later you still have the issue with that interaction,’ he said.”

This is the high dessert; contamination of already low water tables is an unthinkable risk. Especially in a rural corner of the state where the transport of water from safe sources would require huge amounts of fuel.

Going for the Gold:

“Mineral-bearing rock would be milled for microscopic gold in a closed chemical process that wouldn’t include the bird-attracting open settling ponds of diluted cyanide that worried Newmont’s opponents, said Bentz, a retired Malheur County sheriff.”

This is an Eco-system which has evolved over millions of years. Malheur county alone showcases well over 300,000 migratory birds. Can you imagine the impact on the animal systems having cyanide poisoning flying up and down the east side of the state?

Ends Justifying the Means?

I understand the appeal of wanting to extract resources from domestic soil for domestic use; especially when if it’s not taken from Oregon, it’s going to be taken from somewhere with potentially fewer environmental regulations.

“Only 5 percent of the nation’s domestic-use uranium is produced within U.S. borders, although the United States takes more than 20 percent of its electricity from nuclear power plants, Reynolds said.”

That being said, I’m not 100 percent behind nuclear power anyway, as I’ve seen the devastating health effects on people who were victims of radiation leach, and weren’t even made aware of the irreversible damage until years later.

In short, I hope that these foreign companies don’t find the political support they need. I don’t see the boost for local economies to be worth the environmental destruction which will take generations to repair.

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Are there issues you’ve written to your senators about lately? They work for you, you know! Until next time, take charge! xox.

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