The Jerritt Canyon Mine has been shuttered by state officials in Nevada because of excessive mercury pollution, according to the Associated Press.
(The mine disputed this accounting, and said the mine was allowed to reopen in May. "We suspended underground mining on August 8th, 2008 because the current mine plan that was being implemented did not meet expectations and was not profitable. In addition the mill is also temporarily down for repairs to a fan in the drying circuit. We are working with the NDEP to meet and exceed their guidelines," said Nicole Sanches.)
The mine, according to the Environmental Protection Agency's Toxic Release Inventory, was the nation's 9th largest source of mercury pollution in 2006, the last year for which data is available.
What's most striking is that the mine's reported 71,861 pounds of mercury emissions is less than 30% that of the largest mercury polluter in the nation, a larger mine just up the road, also near Elko, Nev.
Nevada is home to eight of the nation's top 10 mercury polluters.
Mercury pollution is of greatest concern to fishermen and their families. Mercury rains down after being spewed into the atmosphere from burning coal, processing gold and other ores, making cement, burning trash, or from certain other industrial processes. Volcanic eruptions, erosion and wildfire can also release mercury into the atmosphere. Once in lakes and other bodies of water, it can be converted into a toxic form, and accumulate in the ecosystem, eventually contaminating fish that may be consumed by humans. Mercury can disrupt the normal development of the brain, and is of most concern to developing fetuses and young children.
Here's a list of the top 10 reported industrial sources of mercury. (Click here for the top 100.)
2.15 million Barrick Goldstrike Mines, Inc., Elko, Elko County, Nev.
1.50 million Newmont Mining Corp., Twin Creeks Mine, Golconda, Humboldt County, Nev.
194,000 Chemical Waste Management, Emelle, Sumter County, Ala.
149,000 Cortez Gold mines, Crescent Valley, Lander, Nev.
123,000 Phelps Dodge Miami Inc., Claypool, Gila County, Ariz.
110,000 Newmont Mining Corp., Lone Tree Mine, Valmy, Humboldt County, Nev.
90,000 Newmont Mining Corp., Carlin, Eureka County, Nev.
87,000 Newmont Mining Corp., Carlin, Eureka County, Nev.
72,000 Jerrit Canyon Mine, Elko, Elko County, Nev.
69,000 Glamis Marigold Mine, Valmy, Humboldt County, Nev.
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