Abandoned mercury mines taint water, fish

About Andrew Van Dam

Andrew Van Dam of The Wall Street Journal previously worked at the AHCJ offices while earning his master’s degree at the Missouri School of Journalism.

As The New York TimesToxic Waters captures attention across the country, the Associated Press has released its own story about government oversight failing to stop massive contamination, this time from abandoned mercury mines in California.

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Creek near an abandoned mercury mine in the California ghost town of New Idria. Photo by mlhradio via Flickr

The AP’s Jason Dearen found that the government has only tried to clean up a handful of the hundreds of abandoned mercury mines in California’s coastal mountains.

According to Dearen, “mercury mines are the biggest sources of the pollution in San Francisco Bay and the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta, the largest estuary on the Pacific Coast.” At least 100,000 impoverished people are eating fish tainted with levels of toxins beyond EPA guidelines, Dearen found.

“Records and interviews show that federal regulators have conducted about 10 cleanups at major mercury mines with mixed results, while dozens of sites still foul the air, soil and water.”

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