Reports on the
Oct. 13, 2001
Capital Rally to Support Cyanide Ban in All WI Mines
Background on CYANIDE in MINING - WI
Talking Points in Cyanide Ban in Mining
Cyanide in Mining News Articles
Background: Inside the U.S. Outside the U.S.
CROSSE TRIBUNE / WINONA DAILY NEWS
* Name of CD: Crandon Mine * Style: Light rock
* Availability: Send $12 to Lazarus, 248 E. Bank St., Fond du Lac, WI 54935 * For more Information: Call (920) 921-6575
* Bio: Dan Gifford, who plays guitar,- bass and keyboards., was born in Winona. He is a speech pathologist working in northern Wisconsin. He is a singer-songwriter, who wrote a rock song about the Crandon Mine controversy from an American Indian perspective. Other songs contain timely lyrics about the current state of affairs in the world today.
Wisconsin Stewardship Network
(the release is in text below and in attached word
Close State Loopholes for Mining, Public Says
Poll Shows 91% Say Mining Waste Should Meet
It's unlikely that mine quest is over
Green Bay Press-Gazette
MADISON - As BHP Billiton seeks a buyer for a major mining project near Crandon, Northeastern Wisconsin lawmakers continue their quest to lower the chance that any future project threatens the environment.
Both efforts offer evidence that the 25-year-old "mine ride" won't end anytime soon.
BHP Billiton, an Australia-based mining giant and the latest in a list of companies that have owned the project over the past quarter-century, said last week it would no longer pursue plans to mine 55 million tons of zinc and copper ore from the site.
Environmentalists who have long fought the project cheered the decision but acknowledged the Crandon mine controversy probably wouldn't end there.
The leader of Nicolet Minerals, a subsidiary of BHP Billiton, said the company would not withdraw its state permit application for the project, and he's optimistic the project would sell, possibly within a few months.
With the prospect of another owner in mind, state Sen. Dave Hansen, D-Green Bay, said he'd push for legislation that would hold the mine industry to the same groundwater quality standards and solid waste disposal rules that other industries must meet.
The legislation, which Hansen co-authored, died last legislative session.
"We need to remain vigilant in protecting what is widely regarded as one of the state's greatest natural treasures, the Wolf River," said Hansen, vice chairman of the Senate Environmental Resources Committee. "While some will take comfort in the fact that BHP Billiton has decided not to pursue the Crandon mine, there remains a concern that our laws are not strict enough to prevent some other corporation from abusing the resource and causing potentially permanent damage to the Wolf River in their attempts to open and operate the mine."
Hansen is not alone.
State Rep. Judy Krawczyk, R-Green Bay, said she and Rep. Terri McC
ormick, R-Grand Chute, would continue their push for the legislation. That assumes Krawczyk gets re-elected Nov. 5. McCormick is running unopposed.
"We can't do something that, two years down the line, we look at and say, 'Oops, we should have watched this,' " Krawczyk said. "I am not anti-business. But there's got to be a way that business and the environment can work together. Terri and I are looking 20 years down the line."
Another piece of legislation that died last session called for the ban on the use of cyanide in mining.
Cyanide is used in mining to separate metals from crushed rock in water.
Hansen said he'd continue supporting efforts to pass that ban.
Krawczyk supported the cyanide ban last session, and she thinks she'll do the same when the issue returns. But she wants to do more research first.
"There are 26 other mines that use mining techniques other than cyanide," she said. "There are gentler ways to mine that ore. That's what we want to keep in mind."
Wisconsin Energy settles cyanide lawsuit
September 05, 2002
MILWAUKEE -- Wisconsin Energy Corp. agreed to pay a company $8.7 million to settle a lawsuit accusing the utility of dumping cyanide-tainted wood chips at two sites.
The decision will reduce the utility's third-quarter earnings by 4.5 cents a share. The company also plans to take another 4.5-cent charge for an identical settlement reached in May with the city of West Allis.
Still, the settlements end a lawsuit filed by the city and Giddings & Lewis Inc. of Fond du Lac in 1996.
"We are pleased to come to this settlement agreement," Wisconsin Energy spokesman Chris Iglar said. "It's in the mutual best interest of We Energies and Giddings & Lewis, and we are happy to put the matter behind us."
Milwaukee-based Wisconsin Energy is the parent company of We Energies, formerly Wisconsin Electric Power Co.
West Allis and Giddings & Lewis sued the utility over contamination at a former gravel pit owned by the city and at an industrial site once owned by a subsidiary of Giddings & Lewis.
In 1999, a jury decided the utility had knowingly dumped tainted wood chips on the land. The jury ordered Wisconsin Electric to pay $4.5 million in compensatory damages and $100 million in punitive damages.
The company appealed. A state appeals court threw out the $100 million verdict in September 2001 and ordered a new trial, which was scheduled to start in October.
Deal reached over tainted
Rejection of verdict against
CRANDON PROJECT -
|Table 1. Summary of Crandon Concentrator Modifying Reagents.|
|Sodium cyanide||Pyrite and sphalerite depressant|
Sodium cyanide is used to depress Zn and pyrite in the Cu/Pb flotation circuit and Zn and pyrite in the Pb flotation circuit. It is an acutely toxic material and must be handled with care. A truckload of cyanide will probably be delivered to the plant every 4-5 weeks. A two-week inventory would consist of nine or ten 1-ton bags of cyanide. Most of the residual cyanide will end in the pyrite concentrate.
Environmentally, the chief hazard is the free cyanide. NMC will add from 30-100 g/t of sodium cyanide to the flotation process. In Mr. Chiesa�s letter to Mr. Moe, the fate of an average consumption of 69 g/t of sodium cyanide was used to estimate the free cyanide effluent for Crandon�s concentrator. The equivalent average cyanide concentration is 37 g/t, and the average concentration of cyanide in the mill process water can be calculated to be 11.5 mg/L. This cyanide is destroyed in the concentrator as it reacts with the minerals and other reagents forming insoluble compounds that attach to the pyrite concentrate. The concentration of residual cyanide remaining in the mill process water for backfilling is estimated at 0.34 mg/L. This estimate is based on a study of residual cyanide in flotation mills conducted by the EPA.
Small amounts of the cyanide will remain in the final tailings water going to the TMA. The free cyanide will chemically decompose in the tailings pond. If needed, the free cyanide can be readily neutralized using calcium or sodium hypochlorite, hydrogen peroxide, or by the INCO process (sulfur dioxide in the presence of copper sulfate.) Sodium cyanide is one of the three reagents that could present an off-site hazard due to its toxicity and the fact that sufficiently large quantities will be stored and handled by the concentrator. Federal and state departments of transportation regulate the shipping of sodium cyanide. NMC and its suppliers will have to conform to established procedures for the safe shipping of this reagent. In the plant, the storage and handling of sodium cyanide must follow guidelines established by the EPA and by the OSHA. NMC�s addresses the design of the reagent warehouse in Section 18.104.22.168.3 of the MPA.Table 3. Summary of Concentrator Reagents.
Sodium Cyanide 18 9 1- ton bags 0.8 Very toxic poison In transit Pyrite concentrate Eventually decomposes. Free cyanide can be neutralized in tailings pond
CRANDON PROPOSAL - CYANIDE ISSUESBackground Paper, Feb. 2000
Sodium cyanide is to be used as a chemical reagent or solvent to help release precious metals-gold and silver-from the ore. Sodium cyanide is acutely toxic to any living thing. Incredibly small amounts of cyanide can kill fish. For example, cyanide measured at between 20-80 parts per billion can kill rainbow and brown trout. Birds and mammals that either drink water or feed on cyanide-poisoned wildlife can be killed if they are exposed to cyanide at between 40-200 parts per million. The same amount would be fatally toxic to humans.
Sodium cyanide is one of at least three chemicals that would present significant risks to the environment from being transported to the site and as well, from being stored on-site. Two others, sulfur dioxide (poisonous gas, proposed use-60 tons per month) and sulfuric acid (corrosive liquid, proposed use-220 tons per month) are also very toxic and present transportation and storage issues. Other chemicals proposed for use at Crandon and that are of concern include sodium dichromate (toxic crystals, 34 tons per month) and copper sulfate (toxic powder, fungicide, 160 tons per month).
A consultant to Wisc Department of Natural Resources (DNR), Andres Trevino, reviewed Rio Algom's Nicolet Mineral Company (NMC) documents related to the chemical processing of ores proposed at Crandon. He reported that should NMC use cyanide at the highest estimated rate, it would need a truckload of cyanide approximately every 4-5 weeks. A one month inventory then would consist of 18-20 tons of cyanide. If the mine were to operate for 28 years, over 6000 tons of cyanide would be required.
Trevino reported that most of the residual cyanide would end up in the pyrite concentrate that is proposed to be back-filled into the mine and potentially in contact with groundwater. Trevino also reports that at least some residual cyanide will end up in the waste tailings dump. He states that the cyanide will chemically decompose in the pond. But this statement doesn't tell the whole story. Cyanide will break down into other compounds and complexes when exposed to sunlight. But colder temperatures, such as in northern Wisconsin, can inhibit the breakdown of cyanide. Leftover cyanide at very small concentrations can harm birds or other wildlife that drink tailings pond water. Cyanide can also break down and form complexes with other chemicals or metals and remain as toxic.
For example, in May, 1995, the Northparkes copper-gold mine in New South Wales, Australia (owned by North Ltd.) killed at least 2,700 birds. The tailings dump at the mine had high levels of copper-cyanide complexes (cyanocuprate complexes) that were not monitored for. Research is showing that these mixes of cyanide with other metals and chemicals can be just as toxic as cyanide itself, but that they are not routinely monitored or carefully regulated.
Cyanide can be treated to become less toxic, but Trevino does not report that NMC is proposing any active destruction of the toxic chemical. Instead, it appears that NMC is simply expecting any leftover cyanide to break down naturally in the tailings dump.
Crandon proposal summary
Date: February 23,
1. Description of Legislation: This bill explicitly prohibits the use of cyanide or cyanide compounds in conjunction with any metallic mineral mining or ore processing operations in the state. The mining industry generally uses cyanide compounds in one of two ways, as a reagent in the mineral separation process called flotation or as a leaching agent primarily for the recovery of gold. In a flotation operation, such as that proposed by Nicolet Minerals Company for the Crandon Project, sodium cyanide would be stored and used within a building and would be added to the mineral separation process flow stream in very small quantities to facilitate physical separation of the valuable minerals containing lead, zinc and copper. Such use of sodium cyanide has been common in the mining industry for over 80 years and is much different than the more recently developed process of heap leaching. The heap leaching process basically involves percolating cyanide solutions through large ore or waste piles to remove gold contained in the material. Heap leaching also involves storage of very large volumes of cyanide-rich solutions and waste materials in containment facilities of varied design and it has generally been these facilities that have leaked or failed, ultimately releasing cyanide to the environment. The proposed legislation would prohibit the use of cyanide in both of these processes.
2. Legislative Action in Previous Sessions: The proposal is similar to AB-936 introduced in the spring of 2000. However, AB-936 was not as broad as the current bill since it only proposed to ban the use of cyanide-ore processing reagents used in ore leaching operations. The bill was introduced late in legislative session and subsequently no action was taken on the proposal. The department took a neutral position on the bill.
3. Policy/Administrative Effect: The proposed bill would clearly state that cyanide compounds may not be used as part of future mining operations in the state. In addition to prohibiting cyanide leaching operations the bill would also preclude operations that would use cyanide as part of its flotation process. Under current policy, the use of cyanide compounds for mining operations could be permitted as long as the applicant can demonstrate that the chemicals would be handled and stored properly on the site and that residual cyanide in waste materials would be of sufficiently low concentrations to comply with all applicable standards. Operators of future mining operations would need to evaluate whether the mineral separation and/or recovery process could be effectively accomplished using alternative chemical reagents. While some alternative reagents have been used successfully at certain mining operations, none have been effectively used over a broad spectrum of applications.
If passed, this legislation would be significant in that it would establish an industry-specific ban on the use of a particular chemical while other industries in the state could continue to use the same chemical. Cyanide-containing compounds are used by over forty different industrial facilities around the state. It is possible this legislation would be vulnerable to an equal protection challenge. Thus, this legislation would not affect the current use of cyanide compounds in this state, nor would it eliminate the shipment of cyanide compounds through the state. There appears to be no federal law with which this bill would either complement or conflict. There is no comparable prohibition in federal laws dealing with mining in general or mining operations situated on federal land.
4. Fiscal Affect: This bill would not have any direct fiscal impacts on state or local units of government. It is possible that the only economically viable means of developing certain mineral deposits is through the use of cyanide compounds. If this legislative proposal were enacted, exploitation of such resources and realization of any attendant revenues would be precluded. However, assignment of a value to these situations would be completely speculative and of little utility.
5. Impact on other Bureaus: This bill would have little impact on any Department program.
6. Information Impact: This bill would not significantly affect the Department's existing data systems.
7. Administrative Rules: This proposal would not require creation or revision of any administrative rules to implement the policy.
8. Effective Date: This bill should be effective upon passage.
9. Land Use Impacts: This bill would result in little practical change in land use policy in the state. If enacted, it could preclude development of certain mineral deposits for which the only economic means of operation involve the use of cyanide compounds.
10. Recommendation: The effect of this bill is to prohibit the use of cyanide-containing compounds for any purpose as part of metallic mineral mining operations. It does not distinguish between the use of such materials for leaching operations, which results in much higher concentrations of cyanide and greater risk, from use in flotation process, which uses low concentrations of cyanide compounds and is widely considered to pose little to no significant environmental threat. While the environmental acceptability of leaching operations is arguable, a prohibition on the use of cyanide compounds in flotation processes does not appear to be warranted and is inconsistent with the permitted use of similar compounds by other industries in the state. The Department should oppose this proposal because it would arbitrarily impose an unnecessarily broad restriction on the use of a widely used and accepted chemical.
Analysis prepared by: Larry Lynch, Mining Team Leader
City plans more tests at Summerfest
May 18, 2001
The city of Milwaukee will initiate a series of environmental tests to determine how widespread and severe cyanide contamination is at the Summerfest grounds in Henry W. Maier Festival Park. Milwaukee officials agreed to do more testing at the Summerfest grounds after meeting with the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources May 14.
The city's decision came three days after The Business Journal documented that the investigation of the contamination on the grounds had not been completed since cyanide and other dangerous chemicals were first discovered at the site in 1994.
"We are asking (the city) to give us a three-dimensional picture of how far (the cyanide) may have migrated laterally and how deep it is," said Jim Schmidt, a DNR remediation and redevelopment specialist at the agency's southeastern Wisconsin headquarters.
"DNR needs a more comprehensive geotechnical investigation to delineate the contamination," said Paul Biedrzycki, the manager of disease control and prevention for the city health department. "The investigation will give us a better understanding of health risks and issues," Biedrzycki said.
Cyanide was originally detected at the Summerfest grounds in 1994 when an engineering firm was taking soil samples in a staff parking lot near the Summerfest administration building. Summerfest officials had commissioned Giles Engineering Associates, a Waukesha engineering firm, to conduct an initial geotechnical survey in preparation for the expansion of Summerfest's ethnic festivals buildings in 1994.
After cyanide and benzene were discovered in the soil samples, the parking lot site was abandoned as a building location. The engineering firm notified the DNR of the contamination in late 1994.
The state's environmental regulatory agency sent "responsible party" letters in 1995 to the city, outlining steps that should be taken to identify the severity and source of the contamination. However, the city never complied, and the DNR did not follow up to make sure the city followed up on the analysis of the contamination.
"There's no great cause for alarm," said Steve Jacquart, spokesman for Milwaukee Mayor John Norquist. "The timing is good now with other building plans going on (at the lakefront) to make it easier to go forward with the testing."
The results of the new testing could have significant financial impact on both Summerfest, the state and the city. Summerfest officials plan to launch a $30 million building program at the festival grounds. The state has plans to develop Lakeshore State Park on 22 acres of nearby open space along the downtown shoreline. The city owns the lakefront festival grounds, which are leased to Milwaukee World Festivals Inc., the parent organization of Summerfest.
"There is a commitment to work with the state and Summerfest to work out a site assessment and any remediation, if it's necessary," said Jacquart.
The land along the shoreline was once a U.S. military reservation and before that a municipal dump. A railroad yard once abutted the property.
DNR officials are hoping the additional geotechnical testing will help identify the source of the cyanide contamination. The initial survey in 1994 noted that a manufactured gas plant less than a quarter of mile west of the Summerfest site in the 3rd Ward may have been the source for the contamination. The former Milwaukee Gas & Light Co. was remediated by Wisconsin Gas Co. in the late 1990s and is now the property of Wisconsin Energy Corp.
Summerfest officials are concerned that widespread soil and groundwater contamination beneath Henry W. Maier Festival Park could threaten the festival's future by limiting its growth and complicating lease negotiations with the city.
October 11, 2001
For more information, contact Bill McClenahan
Forest County Potawatomi Chairman Frank Urges Legislature to Close Environmental Loopholes for Mining Bill Would Eliminate Exemptions From Groundwater and Hazardous Waste Laws
On October 11, 2001, Chairman Frank told the Senate Committee on Environmental Resources in Milwaukee that Senate Bill 271 "eliminates special treatment and loopholes for mining. It eliminates the provision that says mining waste is not hazardous waste." The bill should be passed "as our responsibility to our families today and the families of our children�s children," he said.
The Chairman told legislators that a Potawatomi poll in June found that 90% of Wisconsinites favor closing such loopholes for mines. "We must respect the wishes of Wisconsin�s citizens and ensure that Wisconsin�s mining laws are as strong as they can be," Chairman Frank said at the hearing.
He praised Sen. Dave Hansen (D-Green Bay), Rep. Terri McCormick (R-Appleton) and Rep. Judy Krawczyk (R-Green Bay) "for their courage in fighting to protect Wisconsin�s environment. Their leadership in finding bipartisan solutions to environmental challenges is to be commended."
Bill McClenahan, a lobbyist for the Potawatomi from Martin Schreiber & Associates, testified that the bill would change the law so that waste facilities at mines are not allowed to pollute groundwater more than even a municipal landfill could. Requiring mines to meet groundwater standards based on criteria that are at least as tough as those for landfills is important for two reasons, he said. First, the tailings dumps at the proposed Crandon mine are located in sensitive areas of wetlands and streams and, second, mining waste does not degrade over time like typical landfill waste.
Chairman Frank told the committee, " The Potawatomi live very near the proposed Crandon mine. We are worried about what the mine will do to our land, our water and our air. We are concerned because we know that the EPA says metallic mining is responsible for more toxic pollution than any other source.
"We are concerned because the mine is near the headwaters of the Wolf River, the only river in the state to qualify as a federal Wild and Scenic River. We are concerned because the mine is owned by a company halfway around the world. The impacts of that company�s actions in Wisconsin will not affect their homes and families; it is our homes and families that are at risk."
The Chairman concluded that "We must eliminate the loopholes and special exemptions. We must pass this bipartisan bill."
May 31, 2001
For more information, contact Bill McClenahan
Potawatomi Chairman Applauds Vote to Ban Cyanide in Mining
Potawatomi Tribal Chairman Gus Frank applauded today�s bipartisan vote by a legislative committee to ban the use of cyanide in mining. "Legislators realize we must not risk poisoning waters like the Wolf River through the unnecessary use of an extremely toxic chemical like cyanide," Frank said. "The people of Northern Wisconsin thank them. All the people should thank them."
"Rivers around the country and around the world have been poisoned by the use of cyanide in mining," the chairman said. Examples include the February 2000 spill in Romania that left thousands of dead fish in the Tisza and Danube Rivers. Cyanide from the Summitville mine in Colorado poisoned 17 miles of the Alamosa River. Repeated cyanide spills in Montana led voters to restrict its use there. "Wisconsin must not risk losing waters like the Wolf River to this poison," Frank said.
The bill to ban the use of cyanide in mining, Senate Bill 160, was recommended on a bipartisan 4-1 vote by the Senate Committee on Environmental Resources today. The bill now goes to the full Senate.
"No mining company can ensure that pipes will never leak, pumps will never break, trucks will never crash, landfills will never leak and floods will never occur." Frank said. "One teaspoon of a 2% solution of cyanide is toxic to humans. Much smaller quantities are toxic to fish and aquatic life. Cyanide is simply too dangerous to use at the Crandon site or any of the many other potential mine sites in Northern Wisconsin."
The proposed Crandon mine is hear the Potawatomi reservation and the headwaters of the pristine Wolf River. Nicolet Minerals Company proposes to use between 7 and 18 tons of cyanide to process ore at the site. Much of the cyanide waste will simply be dumped in a landfill at the mine site because mines are not subject to hazardous waste laws.
The chairman noted that most other zinc and copper mines use alternatives to cyanide to process ore. "Wisconsin citizens and Wisconsin fish should not be forced to accept the risks of cyanide use just to save the mining company the expense of using alternatives to cyanide," Frank said.
Although Nicolet Minerals Company argues that it will use a different type of ore processing than many of the mines where cyanide disasters have occurred, the chairman said most accidents happen before or after the actual processing of the ore. "We don�t want truckloads of cyanide on our roads. We don�t want cyanide waste dumped in tailings ponds. I�m glad that legislators see the need to protect the people, the fish and the waters of Wisconsin," Frank said.
The Forest County Potawatomi Community is part of a broad group of conservationists, environmentalists and Native Americans which supports Senate Bill 160. At the April Conservation Congress meetings, a proposal to ban the use of cyanide in mining was approved by a 10-to-1 margin.
May 15, 2001
Nicolet Minerals Company
Says That Fear Mongering
June 25, 2001 diatribe of Senator Dale Schultz (R-Richland Center) against SB 160, and for a cyanide ban only in heap leach mining. (Requires both Adobe Acrobat and acrobatic thinking.) http://thewheelerreport.com/releases/0626schultzpolicy.pdf
Summerfest May be Tip of Cyanide Berg
Environmentalists fear the cyanide contamination at Milwaukee's Henry W. Maier Festival Park could be a mere scratch on the surface of what's hidden along Wisconsin's riverways and backwaters.
A pattern is emerging with former manufactured gas plant sites, the sources of cyanide pollution, that is causing Todd Ames to question why more resources are not provided to the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources to correct the problem.
"With each new budget, the DNR gets more responsibility for less staff, which stretches them further and further," said Ames, executive director of the Wisconsin River Alliance.
Cyanide was found at the Summerfest grounds in 1994 but has remained capped under the Summerfest parking lot. The DNR sent letters to the city of Milwaukee in 1995, instructing the city to conduct further tests on the contamination, but the city did not act on the order, and the DNR did not follow up to make sure more testing was completed.
"Even though Summerfest is covered by asphalt, all you need is for a cable company or gas or water utility to start digging," said Ric Gass, a Milwaukee lawyer who has been involved in lawsuits surrounding cyanide contamination. "If they uncover cyanide, and it gets mixed in a confined area with water, air and sunlight, you could have a dead worker."
The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources estimates 111 former manufactured gas plant sites are scattered throughout Wisconsin. Virtually all of the known sites are located along waterways.
Energy utilities and other corporations are cleaning up 44 of the sites, but no one in the DNR can say with confidence they are certain where the toxic waste from the manufactured gas plant operations may be buried.
By the DNR's count so far, manufactured gas plant sites show up in 30 of the state's largest cities. One DNR spokesman said it stands to reason the waste, which includes cyanide, benzene, polynuclear aromatic hydrocarbons and other carcinogens, may eventually show up in dumps or landfills in or near those 30 cities.
Another common practice 100 or more years ago was to discharge the manufactured gas plant waste directly into the rivers, stream or lakes bordering the manufacturing plants, said a DNR spokesman.
At the Summerfest site, the cyanide contamination may be in a dump that was created to help fill in marshy land along Lake Michigan to extend the lakeshore.
"We probably have a lot more contaminated sites than we'll ever know about," said Jack Eslien, the DNR's coal gas technology team leader who is based in Eau Claire and works on one of the largest manufactured gas plant cleanup sites in the Midwest at Ashland.
The Ashland gasification plant is now the property of Excel Energy Corp., formerly Northern States Power Co., Minneapolis. NSP is accepting responsibility for cleaning up the land next to the former site, but believes some other company is the cause of the contamination in the Ashland Bay.
Ashland residents have petitioned the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to designate the 20-acre Excel property as a Superfund site. The EPA is expected to make a determination before the end of the year.
"I guess the contamination just magically showed in the bay," said Lee Liebenstein, a DNR spokesman. "If the state could work with Excel to get this done, it would go a lot faster than if the federal government turns the Ashland site into an EPA Superfund site."
Cyanide is one of a handful of highly toxic and carcinogenic elements that can be traced to operations from the manufactured gas plants. In Wisconsin, coal was used in the manufactured gas plant process to produce gas that was burned in homes and businesses from the mid 1850s until the 1950s.
Because cities relied on the gas for lighting and heating, the plants were clustered in urban centers. Milwaukee and Racine each had two large plants, while Chicago had 10 operating in the late 1800s.
The introduction of natural gas to Milwaukee rendered the coal gasification plants obsolete in the 1950s, and many of the gas plants were demolished. It wasn't until the 1980s that most of the gas plant sites were becoming candidates for environmental remediation.
"I am baffled why the DNR does not take a more aggressive stance on MGP (manufactured gas plant) sites," said Gass, who won a $104.5 million lawsuit on behalf of the city of West Allis against Wisconsin Electric Power Co. in 1999. The site was contaminated by cyanide-laced chips believed to be have been placed there by a previous manufactured gas plant.
WEPCO is appealing the jury verdict.
"To me this is one of the state's biggest environmental headaches, but I get no sense of urgency from the agency," Gass said.
The DNR has 15 project managers overseeing the cleanup of manufactured gas plant sites throughout the state.
Wisconsin Energy Corp., the Milwaukee parent company of Wisconsin Electric, has identified 13 former manufactured gas plant sites around southeastern Wisconsin and the Fox River Valley that have either been remediated or soon will be cleaned up.
In addition to the 5-acre 3rd Ward manufactured gas plant location, a $4 million project has begun in the Menominee River Valley at 27th Street and St. Paul Avenue.
Citing European Disaster,
Public Concerns Regarding the Proposed Crandon Mine, and DNR Answers
17. Q: Describe the chemical process whereby cyanide from process water will be removed by the wastewater treatment plant if necessary.
A: Process wastewater containing cyanide would not normally be treated by the wastewater treatment system. Instead, the process water is proposed to be in a closed cycle where it would enter the tailings pond with the tailings, flow into the reclaim pond, and be sent back to the mill for reuse. Once in the TMA, the cyanide would initially exist as hydrogen cyanide (HCN) and cyanide ions (CN-) because of the high pH of the process water (pH 10-11).
Some of the HCN present may evaporate into the air, but most would remain in solution. The remaining HCN would dissociate to hydrogen ions (H+) and CN- or be transformed to ammonia (NH3) and carbon dioxide (CO2), thiocyanate (SCN-), or metallocyanides (MeCN), depending on whether or not the process takes place in the presence of oxygen. Either way, SCN- or MeCN are both much less toxic than HCN. MeCN or SCN- would remain in the TMA or move out in the leachate or exfiltrate.
Periodically, however, some water from the reclaim pond would have to be treated for discharge. Cyanide in the form of sodium cyanide, used in the mill mineral concentration process, is a very toxic substance. However, the oxygen in air degrades it into carbon dioxide and ammonia gases. The wastewater treatment process should introduce enough air to the wastewater to promote this degradation.
Cyanide is expected to be present in the TMA in very low concentrations. The concentrations should be below acute toxicity for any realistic oral ingestion of the pond water and for dermal contact. Cyanide is not likely to be a significant concern at the TMA, either long-term or short-term. The wastewater permit would contain cyanide monitoring and a limit to assure cyanide wouldn't be discharged at toxic concentrations.
68. Q: What highways and railroads will be used to transport Exxon's toxic chemicals such as sodium cyanide? How often are the shipments? Is there a contingency plan during icy road conditions? Has the medical community been canvassed regarding their ability to handle toxic spill medical emergencies?
A: Of the chemical reagents listed in Crandon Mining Company's Environmental Impact Report, only five are regulated by the Wisconsin Department of Transportation and required to carry hazardous warning placards for transport on Wisconsin roadways. The following is a list of these chemical reagents, the estimated quantities and the projected monthly number of truck loads:
The first three of the above listed chemical reagents are proposed to be used during the 28-year mill operation. The sulfuric acid and sodium hydroxide are used for water treatment processes which may continue for several years following mine closure. Other products used in the mine, mill, repair shops and laboratories may carry various warning labels but are not included on the list requiring DOT placards during transport.
Crandon Mining Company's preferred method of shipment of these reagents would be by truck. The actual trucking routes would be dependent upon the supplier, which has not been determined at this time. Supplies would likely come from one of the following distribution centers: Chicago, IL; St. Paul, MN; Duluth, MN; Milwaukee, WI, or Green Bay, WI. Due to economic considerations, the only hazardous reagent that may be shipped by rail is sulfur dioxide. The Department has not canvassed the medical community on this issue, and has no responsibility to do so. Under Federal law (EPCRA, The Emergency Planning & Community Right to Know Act of 1986), however, companies must report annually the chemicals held on site to both the local fire department and the county emergency government director. Therefore, these teams would have knowledge about the chemicals existing on site in the event of an emergency. Chemicals in transport to the site are not the responsibility of the Crandon Mining Company, but rather of the transport company. The transport company, regulated by the state and federal Departments of Transportation, would presumably have its own contingency plans with regard to spills or icy conditions. (DNR, 1997).
Please print off, save, post and circulate.
Wisconsin Campaign to Ban Cyanide in Mining
WHAT YOU CAN DO TO BAN CYANIDE IN MINING
The Wisconsin Campaign to Ban Cyanide in Mining invites all community groups and local governments to join in the effort to protect our environment from the threat of a cyanide disaster. Spills that we have seen in other countries can and have occurred here in the U.S. The Crandon mine plans to use up to 20 tons a month of sodium cyanide, which would be shipped in to the mine site on northern Wisconsin roads. No matter what processing method is used at the mine site, we cannot risk the release of even tiny amounts of cyanide into our waterways and fisheries.
After the Winter 2000 cyanide disaster in Europe, five Wisconsin groups--the Wolf Watershed Educational Project/Midwest Treaty Network, Mining Impact Coalition, Wisconsin Resources Protection Council, Northern Thunder, and Wisconsin's Environmental Decade--called for a ban on cyanide in Wisconsin mines. Legislation will be introduced into the next session of the Wisconsin Legislature to prohibit the use of cyanide in mining--based on similar efforts in Montana, Colorado, and the Australian state of New South Wales. NOW is the time to begin to support this campaign, and make it a top issue in the Fall election !!! For more background information, see the factsheet below, or http://treaty.insigenousnative.org/cyanide.html.
You can see Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce Association's position against the "No Special Treatment for mining bill" at www.wmc.org/gr/mining/alert-ab%20547.htm
Cyanide at Crandon Mine , News Articles
Background on Cyanide in Mining - Inside the U.S. Outside the U.S.
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