Study: Great Lakes face mining threat

May 11, 2012 at 9:55 AM
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WASHINGTON, May 11 (UPI) -- Weak U.S. and Canadian laws governing the mining sector may expose the Great Lakes to significant sources of contamination, advocacy groups say.

A legal analysis carried out by the U.S. National Wildlife Federation and Ecojustice Canada found loopholes in regional mining laws could create problems for the Upper Great Lakes region.

"Weak laws and lax enforcement undermine efforts to protect our water, wildlife and communities from this dangerous form of mining," Michelle Halley, an attorney for the NWF, said in a statement. "There is an urgent need for the region to address these issues now or likely face decades of contamination and cleanup."

The advocates examined sulfide mining in the region and found mine waste is turning regional water acidic, which could have dramatic impacts on water resources and associated ecologies.

Across the Upper Great Lakes region, their analysis found few of the existing regulations were considered adequate.

Halley said regional regulations are poorly suited to handle the impacts of sulfide mining. In their analysis, the advocates found laws in Wisconsin were better than the rest, but there was still work remaining.

"While we may be faring better than our counterparts in Michigan and Minnesota, this study makes clear that Wisconsin has a long way to go before our residents can rest easy in regards to sulfide mining," George Myer, executive director of the Wisconsin Wildlife Federation, said in a statement.

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