Ray Bryars: Mine would add to air pollution
Instead of doing the ordinary things that an electronics engineer would be doing in his retirement years, I find that attempting to ensure that Grass Valley remains a healthy, vibrant community is taking over a number hours each week.
This involves working with other concerned residents who are looking into the issues that would result if Rise Gold is allowed to reopen the Idaho Maryland Mine. It would be really nice if we could keep mining as a historic component of this area without having to constantly battle to maintain a healthy environment.
The challenge is that Rise Gold sells a lot of shares and take out a lot of loans to keep funding its organization and to hire experts to make it appear that reopening the mine would be a wonderful thing for Grass Valley and the County.
Meanwhile an overloaded county staff can do little more than juggle the required environmental impact documents with no funding or permission to do a critical analysis. Local property owners and concerned residents are scrambling to understand the process and to digest the hundred of pages of documents that make up the environmental impact report. This is a David-and-Goliath battle that is going to require significant local support not only for expertise, but for funding the legal experts who will ultimately make the difference between retaining our current environment or risk being overtaken by the air pollution, noise, water and safety issues if this mine opens.
One of the areas that I have been looking into is air pollution. As some of you may know. Nevada County has been one of the most polluted counties in California. Air quality is rated F for ozone and 24 hour particle pollution by the American Lung Association.
Measurements of air pollution generally cover the following:
PM 2.5 = Fine particulate matter less than or equal to 2.5 microns. Penetrates deeply into the lungs and bloodstream. Is known to cause premature death in people with heart or lung diseases.
PM 10 = Coarse particulate matter less than or equal to 10 microns. Penetrates deeply into lungs causes bronchial issues. Can result in high blood pressure, heart attack and strokes.
O3 = Ozone. Corrosive gas that acts like sunburn on lungs. Causes asthma attacks and has other respiratory impacts.
NO2 = Nitrogen dioxide. Causes inflammation of the airways, reduced lung function, coughing, wheezing.
SO2 = Sulphur dioxide. Causes irritation of the skin and mucous membranes of the eyes, nose, throat and lungs.
Data for Grass Valley is monitored from the Litton Building. Unfortunately, only PM 2.5 and O3 is measured locally, but it can checked on line at: https://aqicn.org/city/california/nevada/grass-valley-litton-building/
Historic data shows that there are many months during the year when we greatly exceed what is considered “good” for most monitored pollutants. Much of this pollution is not locally generated, but is carried in from the Sacramento Valley and environs. As this population grows, we become more impacted by pollution blowing up the hill.
We are also subject to air pollution produced by the many fires that occur around the Sierra foothills. Given that we are already subject to exceedingly high air pollution, it seems inconceivable that we would consider allowing a mining company to add significantly more pollutants to the toxic stew that we already breath.
Data from the Litton building: Federal maximum 24 hour concentration for PM 2.5 for a 24 hour period over the 2016, 2017, 2018 period was exceeded 13 times. In 2018 the concentration was measured as four times what is considered “ambient.” For the record, 2020 was even worse.
Think about putting your hand in a bowl of 90 degree water. Now knowing that boiling point is 212 degrees, would you feel comfortable putting your hand in 360 degree water? We are effectively burning our lungs.
Federal maximum 8-hour concentration for O3 over the 2016, 2017, 2018 period was exceeded 139 times. In this case the maximum to ambient ratio is 1.4 times.
The bottom line here is that we are already subject to some of the worst air quality in California. It seems unthinkable to expose the residents of Nevada County to a mining operation that would significantly worsen this situation.
To educate yourself more and to find out how you can help our community, please check the Community Environmental Advocates Foundation website: http://www.cea-nc.org.
Ray Bryars lives in Nevada City.
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