“Mining’s Toxic Legacy” is the subject of KGO TV investigative report

Concern about “Mining’s Toxic Legacy” is growing—and not just in the areas most obviously affected by what took place after gold was discovered in California in 1848.

In May, KGO TV (ABC 7) in San Francisco sent award-winning reporter Laura Anthony to Nevada City for an investigative report on “Mining’s Toxic Legacy” featuring the Sierra Fund’s groundbreaking report.

Bay Area television viewers heard the two-part story of gold mining in the Sierra: first, the environmental devastation as a result of the unbridled quest for gold 150 years ago, and a follow up story on modern day gold mining.   

In the news clip aired on Tuesday, May 13, The Sierra Fund CEO Elizabeth “Izzy” Martin highlighted that millions of pounds of mercury left from legacy mining pose a pressing problem to the Sierra and the entire State of California.

The Sierra Fund’s Mining Project Science Director Dr. Carrie Monohan explained to the KGO television audience how elemental mercury can become highly toxic in the form of methylmercury and make its way up the food chain and into humans. Mercury toxicity is especially dangerous for pregnant women and small children.

Dr. Roger Hicks of YubaDocs pointed out that testing people for mercury exposure is long overdue since its poisonous effects are well documented.  “You’ll never find a fever if you don’t take a temperature,” he commented. 

The Sierra Fund’s Mining’s Toxic Legacy Initiative calls for large scale testing of exposure to mercury, heavy metals and other potentially toxic materials like arsenic and asbestos all of which have been spread throughout the Sierra as a result of historic mining activities.

As part of the Initiative the Sierra Fund is continuing its plan for increasing public awareness of “Mining’s Toxic Legacy” including the cultural devastation of the indigenous Peoples of the Sierra Nevada as well as the devastating environmental impacts.

This public awareness campaign includes helping educate public health professionals, environmental health officers, child health advocates and public policy makers to begin to investigate this large and serious problem in order to find meaningful environmental solutions and protect human health.

You can view the KGO TV report “Environmental Results of the Gold Rush” at the station’s website.