EPA Limits Mercury Pollution From Gold Mine Facilities

Action ails to protect public from cyanide, arsenic and other chemicals

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Amid all those delays on important air rules, the EPA is doing a few things right: today they issued standards for toxic pollution emitted by gold mining companies with ore processing facilities. This will mean steep reductions of mercury emissions.

But the EPA failed to provide communities living near these facilities any protection from cyanide, arsenic or other toxic chemicals. We represented the Sierra Club and obtained a court-ordered deadline for this rule and through this litigation we helped secure the 77 percent mercury reduction (from 2007 levels) that EPA just set in place.

Here’s what Jane Williams, chair of the Sierra Club National Air Toxics Taskforce, had to say about this rule: 

EPA deserves credit for finally putting limits on the amount of mercury that gold mines emit. Mercury is a highly potent neurotoxin that can cause birth defects and developmental damage in infants and children, even at very low exposure levels. But the EPA has done nothing about toxic emissions from gold mines’ open leach piles and nothing about their emissions of cyanide and other poisons. EPA’s failure to require gold mines to fully control their pollution will have horrific health impacts on this community when the new plant starts up.

Jane has more reason to be concerned because she lives near a proposed gold mine to be located between Rosamond and Mojave, CA.


Raviya was a press secretary at Earthjustice in the Washington, D.C. office from 2008 to 2014, working on issues including federal rulemakings, energy efficiency laws and coal ash pollution.