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Reader's view: Don’t let PolyMet repeat Reserve Mining’s mistakes

In 1976, I sent a special-delivery letter to the president of the United States, Gerald Ford. I had just returned home, cold and disillusioned, carrying a container of drinking water from a spigot on the side of the village hall in Proctor. Other folks were getting their water from a spring out on Highway 2 and other places. The reason? We were cautioned not to drink water from our faucets.

The asbestos tailings from Reserve Mining on the North Shore had made the finest fresh water of Lake Superior undrinkable. There was much anguish about it. Reserve Mining Co. was so powerful, no one dared stop them from sending thousands of tailings into Lake Superior every day.

The great federal judge, Miles Lord, attempted to stop the tailings from being dumped into Lake Superior, as I recall. But he was stopped time and time again, even in his own court of appeals. Duluth eventually did stand by him. Judge Lord persisted. Finally the federal government fired him, the only sensible voice trying to stop the terrible tragedy happening before our very eyes.

My letter to Ford detailed everything. I enclosed copies of pertinent articles and also sent copies of every article to Sen. Hubert Humphrey, the director of the EPA, the mayor of Duluth and other officials. I received answers from all of them, expressing their own concerns. Still, in 1975 and 1976, tailings continuously poured into the lake.

It is time to take a close look to check on the possible effects PolyMet’s copper-nickel could have on water that is sure to seep into Lake Superior. Don’t let what happened happen again. Waiting until after the fact is too late. Get interested. Speak up. We need the voice of the people. Sulfide in our water is unacceptable.

Claire W. Schumacher