MARQUETTE - Formal agreements signed this week between Rio Tinto, the Superior Watershed Partnership and the Marquette County Community Foundation have created a new independent community environmental monitoring program for the Eagle Mine, Humboldt Mill and associated transportation routes.
In addition to the roughly $1 million Rio Tinto spends each year for its environmental monitoring, the mining company has agreed to provide $300,000 annually toward the independent monitoring effort, which will monitor air quality, groundwater quality, surface water quality, wildlife and plant life.
"We wanted to do some independent monitoring, the community has been asking for it," said Chantae Lessard, Rio Tinto principal advisor, communities and social performance. "We have an extensive environmental monitoring system in place, but we understand the community may not trust that."
The Superior Watershed Partnership will have the final say on what is monitored under the new program and where. Technicians from the partnership will conduct the air quality, surface water and groundwater monitoring, contracting with other entities for additional expertise when needed. Laboratories approved by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency will be used.
"Everyone I've heard from, regardless of whether they are pro or con regarding the mine, feels that independent environmental monitoring is a good thing for the community," said Carl Lindquist, partnership executive director.
The community foundation will act as an independent go-between for funding, oversee the monitoring program and set up a board that will dispense funds to the partnership and resolve disputes between Rio Tinto and the partnership.
For a full story, see Friday's edition of The Mining Journal
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