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There’s Mercury in Them Gold Mines!

And the EPA wants to cut down the emissions.

According to the Salt Lake Tribune, and not any Southern Nevada news outlets so far, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency plans to place caps on the amounts of mercury that gold mines throughout the U.S.–and that means mostly Nevada–can spew into the air.

The costs of the clean up is estimated at $6.2 million initially and $3.8 million per year afterwards.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is proposing regulations to reduce mercury from all 20 of the nation’s gold plants to 1,390 pounds a year. That’s 73 percent less than 2007 levels. The proposal also includes plans for stepped up monitoring.

“Taking mercury out of the air makes our communities safer for everyone,” said Gina McCarthy, assistant administrator for air and radiation at EPA. “Our proposal will further progress that has already been made to limit mercury emissions from this industry.”

A call to Barrick Gold Corp.’s Salt Lake City office was not returned Friday. But the EPA estimated the capital cost of the controls at about $6.2 million initially and $3.8 million a year.

Among the environmental advocates applauding the move was Justin Hayes of the Idaho Conservation League, a group that threatened to sue the EPA five years ago over the failure to rein in gold-plant emissions. After an initial review of EPA’s 140-page proposal, he said the rules appeared stringent and likely to force lower emissions.

“Utah and Idaho are downwind from these high-mercury sources in Nevada,” Hayes said.

“This is an important first step towards assuring that Utah children and Idaho children can once again safely eat locally caught fish.” (SLTrib)

Part of the reason that three proposed coal-fired plants were killed in Nevada–despite the support of Gube Jim Gibbons–was because they too spew mercury, which converts to toxic chemicals that get into fish and birds. Of course, the coal-fired plants also produce lots of green-house gases, probably the primary reason energy companies decided to run away from the technology in favor, presently, of natural gas plants. The rush for natural gas is now showing the problems with that fuel: namely some search technologies tend to poison water supplies and people. (Now)

Drat. Shoulda started that tax drive against the gold mines back when they had money. Wait. I mean, of course, more money.

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