EPA: Metal Mining Most Toxic Industry in America
April 13, 2006
Community right-to-know threatened by EPA proposal to decrease reporting
Multinational companies that mine metals--such as gold, silver and copper--produce more toxic waste than any other industry in the country, according to the EPA's annual Toxics Release Inventory (
According to the
"For as long as the hardrock mining industry has reported its toxic output, it's been the worst polluter in the country," said Lauren Pagel, Policy Director for EARTHWORKS.
Toxic releases from mine sites can have serious impacts on water quality. Mine waste dumps, including those containing the toxics reported by the mining industry, too often leach heavy metals and metalloids, like arsenic and lead, into ground and surface water. As a result, sections of 40% of watersheds in the western
Despite these numbers, the EPA is considering changing the
Despite the large amounts of toxic releases reported by metal mining, these numbers do not represent the full amount of toxic pollution released by the industry. As a result of an industry lawsuit, and a half-hearted defense by EPA, in 2003 the mining industry succeeded in excluding most of its toxic releases contained within one category of mine waste. Based upon historical data, if those excluded toxics were included in the mining industry's releases, metal mining's total reported release would double to approximately 2 billion pounds.
For more information:
- EARTHWORKS' TRI page provides analysis of the TRI, with links to further information.
- EPA's TRI site provides access to TRI data through the user-friendly TRI Explorer interface. It also provides downloadable files of the entire TRI, as well as background information about the legal underpinnings and status of TRI.
Lauren Pagel, (202) 887-1872 x207