Letter to the editor: Summer visitors oppose sulfide mining
By: Brianna Nieson, Dalton Sherrill and Dustin Sherrill Concerned Engineering Students St. Paul, Minn. , Lake County News Chronicle
There are currently two companies looking to start the sulfide mining process near the Boundary Waters and Lake Superior: PolyMet and Twin Metals. These projects need to be stopped before they put our environment and our people at risk. There has never before been a sulfide mine in the state of Minnesota and we should look to keep it that way; if we allow just one sulfide mine, it will be a gateway for many more hard rock mining projects. Other states have taken on sulfide mining and the records are not on favor of continuing the processes. The leaders of these projects are seeing dollar signs where they should be seeing red flags and question marks.
Every year, roughly 250,000 people visit the Boundary Waters in northern Minnesota. This means that every year, sulfide mining would put 250,000 lives at risk, 250,000 people who are just looking to escape to the beauty and peacefulness of one of the most popular wilderness areas in the country.
We are not from northern Minnesota but we are 3 of these 250,000 people whose lives are put at risk as we travel to both Lake Superior and the Boundary Waters Canoe Areas often. We all enjoy many activities, including hiking, camping and fishing, which can be done in the area. We have a strong connection to the beautiful area and feel it needs to be protected. The Boundary Waters are home to pristine lakes, vast forests, and a thriving ecosystem. All of this and more will be destroyed if we do not put a stop to PolyMet and Twin Metals proposed plans to build sulfide mines.
As a society, we simply cannot let this mistake be made, because once it is done, there is no going back. Hard rock mining, which includes sulfide mining, has been claimed by the EPA to be the largest source of toxic waste in the country. It will not be long before sulfuric acid and mercury waste finds its way into not only the Boundary Waters but also Lake Superior, contaminating drinking water, killing animals, and destroying nature. This will not only ruin the family loved past times of the Boundary Waters, but may also lead to fatal diseases due to pollution in everyday consumables.
Every company will promise to contain all toxic by-products and sustain a pollution free environment, but studies show that 76 % of the companies that make this promise fail to do so. When this failure does occur, it will be up to the tax payers to dig us out, while these companies keep digging us further into pollution and disease.
It is up to us as a society , and the engineers of this world to make sure that lives are not put in jeopardy, that the planet is preserved, and that we uphold the engineering code of ethics when it says, “Engineers shall hold paramount the safety, health, and welfare of the public.” With this in mind, we need to say no to the proposed plans of sulfide mining in northern Minnesota.