Last year, visitors from Amnesty International came to Duluth to speak about the catastrophic results of the Mount Polley Mine waste pit collapse in British Columbia in 2014. Canadians had been reassured that the mining operation was safe, that the technology was proven, and that the citizens had no reason to question Canadian regulations who guaranteed that proper guidelines and operations would be followed.
Now, four-plus years after the spill, which devastated the area and polluted waterways and groundwater for miles downstream, pollution continues to affect the health of the land and people of the area.
This past January, another disaster - this time in Brazil with the collapse of a mine tailings dam - killed more than 130 people with others missing and presumed dead.
The design for waste storage proposed at the PolyMet site in Northeastern Minnesota is similar to that of the mine in Brazil. The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources questioned the viability of the wet storage of toxic waste in a flawed pit. Moreover, I believe underfunding renders the DNR incapable of adequate inspections and the oversight of mining operations.
There are so many reasons to re-examine the PolyMet mining proposal: questionable financial surety, maintenance of the mine for 500 years, violation of treaty rights, human health effects of mining, the destruction of wetlands sequestering carbon dioxide, and human-rights violations across the world by Glencore, PolyMet's parent company.
For these reasons, I advocate the course of action proposed by former Gov. Arne Carlson: Halt operations until a review of the potentially flawed permit process is completed and, importantly, conduct a comprehensive health study. Also, review the economic impact and resultant job loss due to contamination.