A new year of outreach for the Mining’s Toxic Legacy Initiative

Nevada City, CA, February 10, 2009 — The Sierra Fund is pleased to report that our Mining’s Toxic Legacy Initiative reached more than 3,000 people in person in 2008, and well over a million more received information on protecting their health from mining toxins via various media outlets.

2009 has already provided great opportunities to continue making presentations and recruiting partners and allies in all 22 Sierra counties, as we work to achieve practical solutions to the problems posed by legacy toxins from the nearly 50,000 abandoned mines in the California.

On February 3rd, Mining Project Organizer Mike Thornton presented our Initiative to the Tuolumne County Board of Supervisors in Sonora, the “Queen of the Southern Mines”. The CA Office of Mine Reclamation ranks Tuolumne County among the Top Ten California Counties for the number of abandoned mines located within its borders.

Thornton also brought our Initiative to a talk by physician and author Dr. Jane Hightower in San Francisco, sponsored by Earthjustice. Dr. Hightower discussed her recently released book Diagnosis Mercury: Money, Politics and Poison, which, according to the website www.diagnosismercury.org, “traces her investigation into the modern prevalence of mercury poisoning, revealing how political calculations, dubious studies, and industry lobbyists endanger our health. While mercury is a naturally occurring element, she learns there’s much that is unnatural about this poison’s prevalence in our seafood. Mercury is pumped into the air by coal-fired power plants and settles in our rivers and oceans, and has been dumped into our waterways by industry. It accumulates in the fish we eat, and ultimately in our own bodies. Yet government agencies and lawmakers have been slow to regulate pollution or even alert consumers.”

An accidental spill of up to 200 gallons of mercury in Southern California has attracted recent media interest (see the San Francisco Chronicle article), but the 13 million pounds that remain in the Sierra Nevada environment from the Gold Rush are still getting minimal attention. The effect of this legacy pollution on Sierra residents and downstream water users is still largely unknown.

The Sierra Fund has continued working to increase awareness of legacy pollution in the Sierra in the State Capitol. We have met with the State Water Board to make sure regulation of suction dredge mining takes into consideration the hazards of legacy mercury. On Saturday February 7th we were please to attend and staff a “Mining’s Toxic Legacy” information table at the Planning and Conservation League’s annual symposium in Sacramento. Hundreds of people attended the conference to hear about the latest developments, issues and programs related to the environment, green technologies and jobs as well as how both the national and state economic situation was playing out in relation to these.

Finally, on February 12th Mining Organizer Mike Thornton will be a guest lecturer at two classes on the Rocklin campus of Sierra Community College to talk about “Mining’s Toxic Legacy” and to recruit young people into the campaign for solutions to this century and a half old problem.

As always, if you have questions and/or suggestions about our Mining’s Toxic Legacy Initiative, contact Mining Project Organizer, Mike Thornton at 530-265-8454 ext. 10 or via email; mike.thornton@sierrafund.org. More information on the Initiative is also available here