August 20, 2013

Draft of new Maine mining rules raises concerns

By North Cairn ncairn@pressherald.com
Staff Writer

(Continued from page 1)

click image to enlarge

Bald Mountain, with Greenlaw Pond in the foreground, is owned by JD Irving of New Brunswick, which is considering mining the property for gold, silver and copper deposits.

Photo courtesy of Natural Resources Council of Maine

"That really worries me," Bennett said – the definition appears to allow a company to pollute water on its property, as long as it can argue that its groundwater does not connect with other water in Maine

"It seems absurd," Bennett said.

Bennett also said he disagreed with what he said were vague requirements for monitoring water quality, and how often testing should be done.

Sampling should be done weekly rather than four times a year, he said, and monitoring wells should have to be closer to the mines than the new rules would allow.

The rules would require mining companies to pay for 50 percent of cleanup costs for the first five years, Bennet said, but many operations go bankrupt within five years. The financial assurances – held in trust – should be 100 percent from the start, he said.

Finally, rather than allow mining enterprises up to 30 years to remediate a site – return it to its original condition – the cleanup should be required within 10 years to ensure it is completed, Bennett said.

The Board of Environmental Protection will review the draft and then schedule a public hearing.

Written comments will be taken and possible revisions made before the board votes on provisional adoption of the changes.

The draft document is a "major substantive change" in rules, so the Legislature must vote on the rules before they can be enacted. The process will not be completed until 2014, said Parent.

 

North Cairn can be contacted at 791-6325 or at: ncairn@pressherald.com

 

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