TSF submitts comments on Idaho-Maryland DEIR

January 15th, 2009 Nevada City, CA

Today The Sierra Fund called on the Grass Valley City Council and Planning Commission to reject the Draft Environmental Impact Report (DEIR) for the Idaho-Maryland Mine (IMM) located in the heart of Grass Valley.

The Sierra Fund is providing extensive comments on the IMM DEIR to City officials so they can study them prior to voting on the DEIR because their review has found that the Idaho-Maryland Mine Draft Environmental Impact Report as presented to the city is fatally flawed.

The comments document numerous cases in the DEIR where shoddy science and incomplete data is used to make assumptions and draw conclusions that simply cannot be validated by the information presented in the DEIR. In several instances in the document itself, consultants acknowledge that they are working with limited and incomplete data and/or data provided solely by the IMM Corporation.

The Sierra Fund CEO Elizabeth “Izzy” Martin says; “The Sierra Fund believes that the citizens of Grass Valley have a right to full, accurate and complete information when being asked to make a decision of this magnitude and the Idaho-Maryland Mine DEIR fails to provide it to them. The current Newmont Mining Company imbroglio could have been avoided if adequate attention had been paid to environmental concerns.   We hope our analysis and recommendations will assist City officials in better representing and protecting the needs of their constituents and community.”

The Sierra Fund calls for much more accurate and complete data, including recalculation of the impacts on local water supply from dewatering the mine, descriptions of the processes used to treat water and hazardous waste materials, and completion of a Preliminary Environmental Assessment to show how they will remediate the legacy of hazardous materials currently onsite.  These measures must be completed prior to approval of the DEIR to allow the remediation mitigation measures to be considered as part of the whole project, and to ensure adequate public review. Addressing these concerns calls for a significant re-write of the DEIR, which should then be re-circulated for public comment prior to certifying the EIR.

Full copies of our written comments are available on The Sierra Fund’s website here.

The Sierra Fund’s Comments on IMM DEIR:
The Sierra Fund Mining Team has documented numerous cases in the DEIR where incomplete data is used to make assumptions and draw conclusions that simply cannot be validated by the information that is available.

Several instances are cited in the DEIR document where the consultants who did the work state that they are working with limited and incomplete data and or data that was provided solely by the IMM Corporation.

A few examples of these serious flaws are:

  • In 2008 IMM Corporation, not a neutral third party, conducted sampling which they provided to their consultants. 
  • Impacts of dewatering the mine were not calculated using formulas for Grass Valley’s fractured granitic environment.  If proper formulas were used, the area of wells affected could be much greater. Furthermore, all properties that are within the dewatered zone should be considered high risk, not just those with existing wells. 
  • There is no discussion of the impacts of intersecting neighboring mine tunnels, form the Union Hill mine, or others, and this could be a significant unexpected water volume and of unknown quality.

These are the kind of precautions that could have prevented Grass Valley’s ongoing conflict with Newmont Mining Company. 

This shoddy scientific work calls into question the mitigation measures that the IMM Corporation says it will implement to protect the public, since appropriate mitigation measures cannot be created without a full understanding of the complex geo-chemical characteristics that exist at the site.

A “one size fits all” approach certainly does not work when it comes to a large scale mining operation in a city.  It is not prudent to move forward with the mining company’s proposal unless complete background data is collected and appropriate mitigation measures outlined in advance. 

The Sierra Fund is not impugning IMM. We are saying that the DEIR is fatally flawed and needs to be rejected.  

The Sierra Fund believes that the citizens of Grass Valley and Western Nevada County have the right to full, accurate and complete information when being asked to make a decision of this magnitude and the Idaho-Maryland Mine DEIR fails to provide it to them or their elected representatives.

For More Information Contact:
Mike Thornton
Mining Project Organizer
The Sierra Fund
530-265-8454 ext. 10
530-262-7335 cell
mike.thornton@sierrafund.org

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