Wednesday, April 3, 2019

Silver City residents balk at plan to rape BHNF

Rochford area residents say Vancouver-based Mineral Mountain Resources destroyed Black Hills National Forest Service Road 184A during their drilling of some 7,500 acres in the Homestake Gold Belt on public lands and at a private site known as the Standby Mine Target.
It was a standing room only crowd on Tuesday night in the Silver City Schoolhouse. Community members showed up in full force to hear from a company looking to explore for gold near Pactola Reservoir. Many in the overflow audience are concerned about the environmental impact of their operations, saying the gold exploration could be a slippery slope to a full-scale gold mine. “A lot of people are concerned about the possibility of exploration for gold at the inlet at Lake Pactola,” said Black Hills Clean Water Alliance Member Lilias Jarding. “Pactola is Rapid City’s water supply. We have some people here from Rapid City like myself, and we want to know whats going on.” [KNBN teevee]
The Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe has passed resolutions condemning what they say are abuses of the General Mining Law of 1872 that led to the Custer Expedition's discovery of gold in the Black Hills. In 2016 Montana environmental policy advocate Bonnie Gestring told an audience observing World Water Day at the Dahl Arts Center in Rapid City that tribal nations should support proposed regulations and two new federal companion bills that lead to reform of the 1872 law.

Much to the frustration of locals, the US Environmental Protection Agency moved most of the contaminated soil from above Rimini, Montana to a mine in upper Basin Creek where it was encapsulated.
The community of Rimini was added to the Superfund list in 1999. Contaminated soil in residents’ yards was replaced, and the EPA has provided bottled water for a decade. But polluted water still pours from the mines and into Upper Tenmile Creek. 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. In 2017, the EPA proposed requiring companies still operating mines to post cleanup bonds or offer other financial assurances so taxpayers don’t end up footing cleanup bills. The Trump administration halted the rule, but environmental groups are scheduled to appear in federal court next month in a lawsuit that seeks to revive it. [US mining sites dump 50M gallons of fouled wastewater daily]
Recall that in 2011 a portion of the highly toxic slag pile owned by Canadian miner Barrick collapsed into Whitewood Creek below Deadwood. The force of the cave-in caused ejecta to partially block the adjacent roadway and dammed the creek for approximately thirty feet.

After an interested party reported the incident to the Lawrence County Sheriffs Department Stan Michals from South Dakota Game, Fish and Plunder called me and said he had only just heard of the incident from my voicemail to him. He said the Department of Ecocide and Natural Ruination dispatched an inspector and GFP would act on its recommendations. DENR's words to Michals were that the metals in the slag are "not very mobile" and "they don't immediately impact the fishery." The creek ultimately pushed through the dam spewing slag down the streambed.

The Board of Minerals and Environment is an arm of the South Dakota Republican Party that ceded regulatory authority to EPA for uranium mining after the state's moocher state legislature realized there is no competent oversight from state agencies.

Acknowledging there will always be acid mine drainage the board recently met in Pierre to announce its plans to continue the war on the Black Hills Gilt Edge Superfund site as EPA becomes a tool of the extraction industry.

If the slag in Whitewood Creek was harmless or benign it would be added as aggregate to concrete destined for highway repairs.

Nearly a century of residue from the Black Hills Mining District affects millions of cubic yards of riparian habitat along the Missouri River all the way to the Gulf of Mexico even after the Oahe Dam was completed in 1962. The soils of the Belle Fourche and Cheyenne Rivers are inculcated with arsenic at levels that have killed cattle while catfish and most other organisms cope with lethal levels of mercury.

Not just at risk to Canadian miners Silver City, Rochford, Hill City, Keystone, Rockerville and Edelweiss above Pactola could easily be wiped out by wildland fires driven by red flag conditions.

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