What are Bonner County candidates saying about the Rock Creek Mine? One claim is the discharge will be cleaner than the river. This is false.
If constructed, the mine’s discharge requires a mixing zone because the concentration of metals in the wastewater cannot meet water quality standards without significant dilution. The Clark Fork River, which provides 90 percent of Lake Pend Oreille’s recharge, would be the recipient of this perpetual pollution.
Mining companies always claim their operations will be clean, but their track record proves otherwise. Government documents established that predictions of “little impact” to water quality for modern Montana mines were wrong 91.7 percent of the time.
Hecla Mining Co, which wants to build the mine, runs Alaska’s Green’s Creek Mine. Since components of that mine’s discharge are over 20 times the maximum concentration protective of aquatic life, Alaska authorized a mixing zone for dilution. However, subsequent sediment and marine mammal tissue sampling have shown high concentrations of lead and other metals. In 1988, the Forest Service predicted no impacts from metals leaching or acid mine drainage, but acid mine drainage was documented in 2003.
Hecla Mining Company’s CEO, Philips Baker, was labeled a “bad actor” by the state of Montana. Baker was the CFO of Pegasus Gold, which went bankrupt in 1998 leaving behind tens of millions in ongoing clean up costs at four Montana mines.
Find out what candidates are claiming about the Rock Creek Mine. Lake Pend Oreille and the economic health of Bonner County are at stake.
MARY CROWE COSTELLO
Rock Creek Alliance