Reader's View: Claim about trout unsubstantiated

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Some interesting points were brought out in a Feb. 24 “In Response” column by the president of the Conservationists with Common Sense group (“ Tourism industry gets it wrong on copper-nickel mining ”). However, when she mentioned workers "pump(ing) water from a higher sulfide pit" and that it contained "barrels of brook trout in the 2% sulfide ore pit" and that "the brook trout survived and multiplied," there was no substantiation of this as to where it happened and if it was even recorded by the mine. This was in a pit with uncrushed rock unexposed to air.

According to the following, ore needs to be crushed and exposed to air, water, and weathering to become toxic: “Oxidation and hydrolysis reactions turn otherwise benign minerals into toxic materials, including acid, (heavy and other) metals, and sulfates. Acidic conditions further catalyze these reactions, making them proceed at faster rates then would otherwise occur." (This is from EarthWorks in Washington, D.C. and its "Track Record of Water Quality Impacts Resulting from Pipeline Spills, Tailings, Failures, and Water Collection and Treatment Failures." It’s also from Jennings, S.R., Neuman, D.R., and Blicker, P.S. 2008: "Acid Mine Drainage and Effects on Fish and Health and Ecology." Reclamation Research Group Publication, Bozeman, Montana.)

I have caught trout all over the Northland in rivers running through bedrock. However, if the rock contained sulfates and was dug out and crushed and dumped on the shore and left to weather (running into the river or an aquifer), there would be big problems.

Mark Roalson

Hoyt Lakes


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