Good news. The EPA is considering adding phosphate mines to the list of industries that must report the amount of toxic pollution they release into air, water and land. What? They don’t do this already? No. And, they should.
Phosphate mines are responsible for large releases of selenium, which is harmful to wildlife, livestock, fisheries, and public health.
Take southeast Idaho for example. Over 160 miles of streams cannot meet their beneficial uses due to elevated levels of selenium from phosphate mining. There have been repeated livestock fatalities, including horses and sheep. Health officials have cautioned hunters that elk taken within ten miles from phosphate mining areas had higher levels of selenium, particularly in their liver. And, scientists have found high levels of selenium in trout in the upper Blackfoot Watershed of Idaho, amongst other areas.
It is vital that the people who live, work and recreate in these areas have access to information about the amount of toxic pollution in and around their communities via the Emergency Planning and Community Right to Know Act (EPCRA). The phosphate mining industry should be no exception. Our comments to the EPA can be read here: TRI comments