Carrie Monohan, Ph.D. and Bob Joehnck represented The Sierra Fund at the national Abandoned Mine Lands Conference in Denver, Colorado, October 2-3, 2008. The Sierra Fund was noted by many to be one of the few environmental groups present showing both interest and expertise in AML issues.
The two-day 2008 U.S. EPA/NGWA Remediation of Abandoned Mine Lands Conference covered a variety of topics including new technologies to mitigate AML impacts, modeling groundwater impacts, and policy implications such as navigating financial assurances for property owners.
The time was packed with 20-minute presentations from expert speakers including David Reisman from USEPA, Jim Gusek, a national expert on passive treatment technology, and Christine Gali LaBerg from Walsh Environmental who has been the project manager on more than 25 SMARA cleanup projects.
Several of the topics that are pertinent to the Sierra as well as the rest of the nation were discussed including: arsenic bioavailability, funding AML remediation when there is no responsible party, and improving regulatory approaches and technology.
As a result of our presence at this conference, The Sierra Fund was invited to participate in the Interstate Technology & Regulator Council (ITRC), which works to increase state acceptance of new technologies, stream regulation, and build confidence in new technologies.
In all, it was a very successful conference because the issues that we face in the Sierra were put into a broader context, bringing both perspective and clarity to the issues associated with abandoned mine lands from the Gold Rush era. Additionally, important contacts with experts in the field of abandoned mines were made. We look forward to following up on conversations with many of the speakers, and to attending the conference next year.