07/26/2008 - The federal government is "putting the public's health and safety at risk" by not cleaning up safety and contamination hazards at abandoned mines on public land in the West, the Interior Department's inspector general said in a report issued yesterday.
The unusually harsh report by Inspector General Earl E. Devaney, based on visits to 45 areas with abandoned mines and interviews with more than 75 employees of the Bureau of Land Management and the National Park Service, warns that "dangerous levels of environmental contaminants, such as arsenic, lead and mercury" are present on BLM lands that are readily accessible to visitors and local residents. Most of the mines are in California, Nevada and Arizona.
Velma Smith, manager of the Pew Environment Group's campaign for responsible mining, said in an interview yesterday that the inspector general's report should provide Congress with "a pretty compelling reason to act" on mining reform this year.
"They really can't brush the issue under the rug anymore," Smith said.
Read the full article Cleanup of Unused Mines Is Urged on The Washington Post's Web site.