Association Says Mining Industry Not Top Polluter

April 17, 2001
The National Mining Association is arguing that metal mines are not the "top polluters" the media called them following EPA's recent Toxic Release Inventory report.

EPA''s Toxics Release Inventory (TRI) program requires the mining industry to report substantial quantities of naturally occuring minerals and elemets that exist in low concentrations in all rock and soil, said the National Mining Association (NMA).

According to the 1999 TRI data released last week, the metals mining industry had the highest volume of releases of the 650 listed substances among all reporting industrial facilities.

NMA is arguing that metal mines are not the "top polluters" the media called them following the TRI report.

"There is nothing toxic about these materials," said NMA President Jack Gerard. "The allegations made by industry opponents are ludicrious and represent a cruel attempt to mislead and alarm the public."

NMA noted that 85 percent to 99 percent of what metal mines report is actually metal compounds that exist naturally in ordinary rock.

"As long as moving, storing, processing and managing rock are defined as ''releases'' under TRI, the quantities reported by mining will likely be greater than those from other industries," said Gerard. "It is important that the public understands the difference."

EPA itself admits "TRI estimates alone are not sufficient to determine exposure or calculate potential adverse effects on human health and the environment."

Gerard said environmental activists, however, consistently use the information in their attacks on industry.

"The ink wasn''t even dry on this report when activist groups began running around using words like ''toxic'' and ''pollutant'' to gain public support for their extremist political agenda," said Gerard.

Gerard noted that mining companies made public their TRI information when they filed their reports with EPA last summer and have been extremely cooperative in their efforts to explain to the public whan these reports mean.

"America''s mining operations are continually improving the quality of the environment in and around their mining communities," said Gerard, " and the industry is commiteed to ensuring the public receives meaningful information about today''s safe, efficient and environmentally sound operations."

by Virginia Sutcliffe

About the Author

EHS Today Staff

EHS Today's editorial staff includes:

Dave Blanchard, Editor-in-Chief: During his career Dave has led the editorial management of many of Endeavor Business Media's best-known brands, including IndustryWeekEHS Today, Material Handling & LogisticsLogistics Today, Supply Chain Technology News, and Business Finance. In addition, he serves as senior content director of the annual Safety Leadership Conference. With over 30 years of B2B media experience, Dave literally wrote the book on supply chain management, Supply Chain Management Best Practices (John Wiley & Sons, 2021), which has been translated into several languages and is currently in its third edition. He is a frequent speaker and moderator at major trade shows and conferences, and has won numerous awards for writing and editing. He is a voting member of the jury of the Logistics Hall of Fame, and is a graduate of Northern Illinois University.

Adrienne Selko, Senior Editor: In addition to her roles with EHS Today and the Safety Leadership Conference, Adrienne is also a senior editor at IndustryWeek and has written about many topics, with her current focus on workforce development strategies. She is also a senior editor at Material Handling & Logistics. Previously she was in corporate communications at a medical manufacturing company as well as a large regional bank. She is the author of Do I Have to Wear Garlic Around My Neck?, which made the Cleveland Plain Dealer's best sellers list.

Nicole Stempak, Managing Editor:  Nicole Stempak is managing editor of EHS Today and conference content manager of the Safety Leadership Conference.

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