Theresa Huck: Is this pain our future?
On Nov. 30, 2020, I saw my specialist at UC San Francisco. I was given a new and updated diagnosis: peripheral neuropathy caused by mercury poisoning.
This was not a hippie-laden self-diagnosis. This is a real diagnosis by the head of dermatology at UC San Francisco, and now UC Davis neurologists are my next stop to treat my verified diagnosis.
How did I get mercury poisoning? A tunnel of the Lost Lake leg of the Lava Cap Mine collapsed underground and disturbed heavy metals that had settled in the mine tailings, allowing them to move into the surrounding groundwater.
We rented this property and had no knowledge that our well/natural spring in Grass Valley, at You Bet Road and Lost Lake Road, was in the proximity of a federally designated Superfund site.
As a renter, I had received no notification that I was living in an officially designated toxic area. Landowners are notified, but renters are not, as it is not required by Nevada County, the state of California or the federal government.
I drank the water from my well, I showered in it, cooked with it, and ingested it for over two and a half years. As a result my son and I both have brain damage caused by this poisoning. No, I could not smell it or taste it. I thought I was drinking the best water I could from a natural spring.
I am devastated. My doctor says that my quality of life living with this is equal to being in full renal failure, on daily dialysis. In order to function every day, I have to depress my nervous system with heavy medications and use ice packs all over my body, randomly moving them to different locations as the dying nerves send signals to my brain.
My doctor explained that peripheral neuropathy is the death of small nerves. As one bundle of nerves die, my body will find new nerve bundles to kill off.
There is no end to this, and there is no cure. There is no future for me that is not plagued with daily torture. This won’t kill me in the end, but it is assured that I will be living with a personal hell caused by the legacy of mining in Nevada County.
Is gold truly worth this? Is it truly worth it for Nevada County residents who risk exposure to mercury, lead and arsenic for mines like the Idaho-Maryland to reopen? For investments?
Will it be in the air, with the many thousands of truck trips hauling mine tailings? Will it be in our groundwater as massive amounts of water are flushed from the tunnels? How else could this affect us?
What will Rise Gold do at the Idaho-Maryland Mine to ensure this cannot happen to any Nevada County resident, now or in the future as a consequence of an accident, a spill, a mistake or a simple oversight? It hardly seems possible, given the history of mines here, that this couldn’t happen!
Will companies like Rise Gold pony up and care for those, like my son and me, who find their lives irrevocably harmed by the mining legacy they aim to continue?
Will they plan ahead for Nevada County residents they may poison in the future?
Will Rise Gold shareholders really support this? I have been told that shareholders of Rise Gold believe that our residents support this mine. Where are those people?
It’s plain a very large number of Nevada County residents, especially those who live on Banner Mountain, are not in support of reopening this mine!
Theresa Huck lives in Grass Valley.
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