Thursday, December 10, 2015

PolyMet FEIS = Failed EIS?

Yesterday's post raised some concerns and questions about the adequacy of the PolyMet FEIS, particularly regarding potential environmental impacts related to a potential failure of a tailings dam. Here's a link to a report that helps support the validity of those concerns (The RISK, PUBLIC LIABILITY, & ECONOMICS of TAILINGS STORAGE FACILITY FAILURES). In particular, please take a careful look at Table 5.1 from that report and note the troubling increase in serious and very serious failures in recent decades.

Table 5.1 Failures per Million Tonnes Copper Mine Production 1940 ‐ 2011

On the other hand, Australia has undertaken (albeit for coal mining) "a programme of bioregional assessments in order to better understand the potential impacts of coal seam gas and large coal mining developments on water resources and water-related assets." If you look around on the Internet, you can probably find some documentation of how they're going about it. Although I'm not familiar with the outcomes, the process seems more in line with the level of risks to which Minnesota seems determined to subject some of it's most valuable water-related assets. I suspect it might even be possible to find some qualified, independent professionals who don't have a dog in the mining fight in Minnesota, to provide a characterization of the quantity and quality of risks facing our resources if the project proceeds. Alternatively, we could take a look at a "Go - No Go" assessment that's being created specifically for sulfide mining. Here's a sample dealing with waste dumps:

What do you suppose the folks in Canada or Brazil would say if they had a chance to reject the mines that recently devastated their countrysides? We still have that opportunity. If we're going to do mining, let's do it right. Here's where to share your concerns. Wouldn't Minnesota be better served spending resources properly deciding about sulfide mining, and regulating it as necessary, than battling the adequacy of a suspect document out in court?

Difficult to know whether humans are inordinately anxious
about crisis, calamity, disaster, or unknowingly crave them.
These horrific conditionals, these expected unexpecteds,
we dwell on them, flinch, feint, steel ourselves:
but mightn’t our forebodings actually precede anxiety?
Isn’t so much sheer heedfulness emblematic of desire?

How do we come to believe that wrenching ourselves to attention
is the most effective way for dealing with intimations of catastrophe?
Consciousness atremble: might what makes it so
not be the fear of what the future might or might not bring,
but the wish for fear, for concentration, vigilance?
As though life were more convincing resonating like a blade.

Of course, we’re rarely swept into events, other than domestic tumult,
from which awful consequences will ensue. Fortunately rarely.
And yet we sweat as fervently
for the most insipid issues of honor and unrealized ambition.
Lost brothership. Lost lust. We engorge our little sorrows,
beat our drums, perform our dances of aversion.

Always, “These gigantic inconceivables.”
Always, “What will have been done to me?”
And so we don our mental armor,
flex, thrill, pay the strict attention we always knew we should.
A violent alertness, the muscularity of risk,
though still the secret inward cry: What else, what more?
© 1999, C.K. Williams
From: Poetry, Vol. 174, No. 2, May
Publisher: Poetry, Chicago, 1999

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