A new Associated Press report has blown the lid off the mining industry’s toxic effect across the United States, revealing that over tens of millions of gallons of contaminated water tainted by arsenic, lead and other dangerous metals are flowing into lakes, streams and other drinking water sources on a daily basis.
The report reveals the horrific cost the public has been forced to bear for private corporations’ pursuit of raw material wealth, specifically in terms of the cost of the disposal of toxic waste – a responsibility that has been ignored by wide swathes of the mining industry. The mining industry has instead allowed such toxins and contamination to flow unimpeded into precious water sources in states like California, Colorado, Montana and Oklahoma.
Companies that mined for gold, silver, lead and other minerals were given free license to strip the earth in search of these raw materials. Once the mining projects failed to yield further profits, the companies were allowed to relocate to previously unutilized areas with no regard for the toxic waste they left behind.
In effect, these companies were externalizing the costs of mining to taxpayers — who unknowingly footed the bill for the clean-up – or to future generations who are now forced to suffer the health consequences and ecological damage resulting from the unwillingness of companies to pay for the cost of toxic disposal and the detoxification of former sites.
The AP investigation entailed looking at public data and research on 43 mining sites under federal oversight, including complexes that included anywhere from dozens to hundreds of mines.
On average, over 50 million gallons (189 million liters) of contaminated wastewater has been flowing from the sites on a daily basis.
Oftentimes, the untreated wastewater trickles or flows into nearby ponds, rivers, soil and groundwater, comprising about 20-million gallons (76 million liters) of polluted water that could fill over 2,000 tanker trucks, according to the report.
The remaining water which is actually treated comes at a great cost to taxpayers, who will likely be forced to capture the waste or treat polluted streams for thousands of years, if not indefinitely, long after the mining firms have profited from ruining the environment.
In many cases, the pollution has persisted despite these sites being listed as Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Superfund cleanup sites – among the country’s most hazardous, which have been frequently linked to cancer, birth defects, and rare, deadly diseases.
The Superfund program has seen sharp cutbacks under the Trump administration, which has installed EPA administrators like Scott Pruitt and former coal lobbyist Andrew Wheeler who have been close to such major polluters as the big banking, oil, and agriculture industries.
An example of such sites suffering extreme groundwater pollution is the town of Rimini, which lies just outside of Helena, Montana’s capital, where 150 gold, lead and copper mines operated from the 1870s until 1953.
The community was added to the Superfunds list in 1999, allowing the EPA to replace contaminated soil in yards and deliver bottled water for a decade. However, the community is still piping-in tap water that’s contaminated with the metals, forcing them to wash their clothes, dishes and bathe in toxic wastewater.
Many of the polluted sites across the country are simply beyond the pale of recoverability, such as Northern California’s Iron Mountain Mine, east Oklahoma’s Tar Creek, and Colorado’s San Juan Mountains — the site of the catastrophic Gold King Mine blowout of 2015.
The AP report notes:
“Estimates of the number of such abandoned mine sites range from 161,000 in 12 western states to as many as 500,000 nationwide. At least 33,000 have degraded the environment, according to the Government Accountability Office, and thousands more are discovered every year.
Officials have yet to complete work including basic risk analyses on about 80 percent of abandoned mining sites on federal lands. Most are controlled by the Bureau of Land Management, which under Trump is seeking to consolidate mine cleanups with another program and cut their combined 2019 spending from $35 million to $13 million.”
It remains unclear whether the U.S. government will ever have the political will to deal with the toxic legacy of the U.S. mining industry, especially given that the rules governing pollution and runoff from mining sites come from the antiquated 1872 Mining Act.
In the meantime, efforts by Democrats to force the mining industry to foot the bill for a special cleanup fund for old hardrock mining sites have faced concerted resistance from the industry and their Republican allies in Congress.
Montana Mining Association director Tammy Johnson unrepentantly told the AP:
“Back in the day there really wasn’t a lot known about acid mine drainage … I just don’t think that today’s companies bear the responsibility.”
The Trump administration has also bent over backwards to protect the polluters, halting a proposed 2017 EPA rule that would force mining firms to post cleanup bonds or otherwise pay for the cleanup rather than push the costs onto taxpayers. Environmental groups are suing to ensure that the EPA rule is revived, and will appear in federal court next month.
It remains clear that someone has to pay for what will amount to a vast clean-up campaign and campaign for the renewal of land that is effectively being destroyed on a daily basis. But who will that “someone” be – the taxpayers and residents living in the effected land, or the mining industry who perpetrated the widespread pollution of the land and tainting of the water?
And the question also remains about whether business as usual – the sacking of the land for private gain – will be allowed to proceed, even if the cost from a massive cleanup comes out of taxpayer pockets or industry profits.
Dolphin Swims Through Louisiana Neighborhood in Aftermath of Hurricane Ida
A Louisiana family was shocked to find a dolphin swimming through their neighborhood in the aftermath of Hurricane Ida.
Amanda Huling and her family were assessing the damage to their neighborhood in Slidell, Louisiana, when they noticed the dolphin swimming through the inundated suburban landscape.
In video shot by Huling, the marine mammal’s dorsal fin can be seen emerging from the water.
“The dolphin was still there as of last night but I am in contact with an organization who is going to be rescuing it within the next few days if it is still there,” Huling told FOX 35.
Ida slammed into the coast of Louisiana this past weekend. The Category 4 hurricane ravaged the power grid of the region, plunging residents of New Orleans and upwards of 1 million homes and businesses in Louisiana and Mississippi into the dark for an indefinite period of time.
Officials have warned that the damage has been so extensive that it could take weeks to repair the power grid, reports Associated Press.
Also in Slidell, a 71-year-old man was attacked by an alligator over the weekend while he was in his flooded shed. The man went missing and is assumed dead, reports WDSU.
Internet users began growing weary last year about the steady stream of stories belonging to a “nature is healing” genre, as people stayed indoors and stories emerged about animals taking back their environs be it in the sea or in our suburbs.
However, these latest events are the surreal realities of a world in which extreme weather events are fast becoming the new normal – disrupting our lives in sometimes predictable, and occasionally shocking and surreal, ways.
Mom in LA Suburbs Fights Off Mountain Lion With Bare Hands, Rescues 5-Year-Old Son
A mother in Southern California is being hailed as a hero after rescuing her five-year-old son from an attacking mountain lion.
The little boy was playing outside his home in Calabasas, a city lying west of Los Angeles in the Santa Monica Mountains, when the large cat pounced on him.
The 65-pound (30 kg) mountain lion dragged the boy about 45 yards across the front lawn before the mother acted fast, running out and striking the creature with her bare hands and forcing it to free her son.
“The true hero of this story is his mom because she absolutely saved her son’s life,” California Department of Fish and Wildlife spokesman Captain Patrick Foy told Associated Press on Saturday.
“She ran out of the house and started punching and striking the mountain lion with her bare hands and got him off her son,” Foy added.
The boy sustained significant injuries to his head, neck and upper torso, but is now in stable condition at a hospital in Los Angeles, according to authorities.
The mountain lion was later located and killed by an officer with the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, who found the big cat crouching in the bushes with its “ears back and hissing” at the officer shortly after he arrived at the property.
“Due to its behavior and proximity to the attack, the warden believed it was likely the attacking lion and to protect public safety shot and killed it on sight,” the wildlife department noted in its statement.
The mountain lion attack is the first such attack on a human in Los Angeles County since 1995, according to Fish and Wildlife.
The Santa Monica Mountains is a biodiverse region teeming with wildlife such as large raptors, mountain lions, bears, coyote, deer, lizards, and snakes. However, their numbers have rapidly faded in recent years, causing local wildlife authorities to find new ways to manage the region’s endemic species.
Video Shows Taliban Taking Joyride in Captured US Blackhawk Helicopter
The rapid fall of Kabul to the Taliban has resulted in a number of surreal sights – from footage of the Islamist group’s fighters exercising at a presidential gym to clips of combatants having a great time on bumper cars at the local fun park.
However, a new video of Taliban members seemingly testing their skills in the cockpit of a commandeered UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter shows the chilling extent to which U.S. wares have fallen into the hands of a group it spent trillions of dollars, and exhaustive resources, to stamp out.
In the new video, shared on Twitter, the front-line utility helicopter can be seen taxiing on the ground at Kandahar Airport in southeastern Afghanistan, moving along the tarmac. It is unclear who exactly was sitting in the cockpit, and the Black Hawk cannot be seen taking off or flying.
It is unlikely that the Taliban have any combatants who are sufficiently trained to fly a UH-60 Black Hawk.
The helicopter, which carries a $6 million price tag, is just a small part of the massive haul that fell into the militant group’s hands after the country’s central government seemingly evaporated on Aug. 14 amid the withdrawal of U.S. and coalition troops.
Some 200,000 firearms, 20,000 Humvees and hundreds of aircraft financed by Washington for the now-defunct Afghan Army are believed to be in the possession of the Taliban.
The firearms include M24 sniper rifles, M18 assault weapons, anti-tank missiles, automatic grenade launchers, rocket-propelled grenades and mortars.
Taliban fighters in the elite Badri 313 Brigade have been seen in propaganda images showing off in uniforms and wielding weaponry meant for the special forces units of the Afghan Army.
The U.S. is known to have purchased 42,000 light tactical vehicles, 9,000 medium tactical vehicles and over 22,000 Humvees between 2003 and 2016.
The White House remains unclear on how much weaponry has fallen into Taliban hands, with National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan admitting last week that the U.S. lacks a “clear picture of just how much missing $83 billion of military inventory” the group has.