November 01, 2018 at 5:00 am | Bonner County Daily Bee | Direct Link to Article
Commissioner McDonald has voiced his support on the proposed Rock Creek Mine in Montana on several occasions. His rationale was that he had been told by the developers of the proposed mine (Hecla) that the water from the tailings impoundment would be cleaner than the water in the Clark Fork River, and that the EPA has a full-time office there (in fact, the nearest EPA office is in Helena, 265 miles removed).
According to the Final Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement available from the U.S. Forest Service (fs.usda.gov/Internet/FSE_DOCUMENTS/fseprd573773.pdf)
Treated wastewater would be discharged to either the infiltration ponds or to the permitted outfall in the Clark Fork River and would change the quality of the receiving water” (p. 184.108.40.206)
Water from the tailings impoundment would not be cleaner than the Clark Fork River. Even after treatment, Hecla still needs a permit to discharge into the river because it will still contain significant pollution. The only remedy that the mining company has purposed for the pollution is a “mixing zone” (described in the FSEIS), where the clean water of the Clark Fork River would dilute the wastewater. The pollution doesn’t go away, it just goes downstream, ultimately to Lake Pend Oreille.
It’s very disturbing to me that this misinformation has been repeated publicly by an elected official. I hope in the future that the commissioners will revisit this very important issue and consider the actual facts.
JEAN GERTH ANDERSON