Jeffrey Wright Gold Mine and Bristol Bay Update

By admin on January 23, 2014 at 1:06 pm

Want to visit the Jeffrey Wright gold mine?  The actor (Basquiat, The Hunger Games, Quantum of Solace) has been running a small gold discovery operation for the last decade called Taia Lion Resources. This article goes on to describe Jeffrey Wright’s difficulty in getting a partner and the funds to start mining on a larger scale and receive a decent profit from the mining.

Large-Scale Mining Could Devastate Bristol Bay Fish, People via Homer News, a local newspaper in Alaska

The EPA recently released their report on the Bristol Bay Pebble mine, and the impact will be devastating to communities and wildlife in Bristol Bay.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency on Jan. 15 released its final assessment of the impact of mining in the Bristol Bay region. Its findings are similar to those of an earlier draft report, concluding that, depending on the size of the mine, up to 94 miles of streams would be destroyed in the mere build-out of the project, including losses of between 5 and 22 miles of streams known to provide salmon spawning and rearing habitat. Up to 5,350 acres of wetlands, ponds and lakes also would be lost due to the mine footprint.

“Our report concludes that large-scale mining poses risks to salmon and the tribal communities that have depended on them for thousands of years. The assessment is a technical resource for governments, tribes and the public as we consider how to address the challenges of large-scale mining and ecological protection in the Bristol Bay watershed,” EPA regional administrator Dennis McLerran said in a statement.

The battle over the proposed Pebble mine has been waged far outside the state’s borders, with environmental activists like actor Robert Redford opposing development. Multinational jewelers have said they won’t use minerals mined from the Alaska prospect, and pension funds from California and New York City pressured London-based Rio Tinto, a major shareholder of mine owner Northern Dynasty Minerals Ltd., to divest last year.

The Bristol Bay watershed produces about 46 percent of the world’s wild sockeye salmon, and salmon are key to the way of life for two groups of Alaska Natives living in the region, Yup’ik Eskimos and the Dena’ina. The report said the response of Native cultures to any mining impacts was unclear, though it said it could involve more than the need to compensate for lost food and include some degree of cultural disruption.

A few articles on the chemical spill in West Virginia

By admin on January 16, 2014 at 12:05 pm

The Elk River of West Virginia. Associated Press.

I’ve read a few articles addressing the lack of regulation on industrial chemicals in West Virginia regarding the most recent chemical spill. The spill affected West Virginians water supply, leaving them without clean water to drink or bathe in for days. As I read more, I learned that not much is known about the chemical, 4-methylcyclohexane methanol, that was released into the Elk River and its safety. Aside from the lack of information on the chemical, the site where the spill occurred had not been inspected since 1991.

The Big Impact of a little known W.Va. Chemical Spill via NPR

The chemical is called 4-methyl-cyclohexane-methanol, or MCHM. If you’ve never heard of it, you’re in good company. Most chemists and toxicologists hadn’t either — nor had the water company, nor emergency responders in West Virginia who had to deal with thousands of gallons of it spilling from a tank into the Elk River, just a mile and a half upstream from the intake for the region’s drinking-water plant.


At the time of the accident, the CDC didn’t have a standard for how much of this chemical in water is safe to drink.

So the agency had to come up with one.

The agency relied on the little research that had been done on the chemical — an animal study that established the lethal dose for rats. […]

Experts weren’t surprised that the scientific literature had so little information about MCHM, because there is very little toxicological research about many chemicals. Priority for testing is given to chemicals used by consumers or in food preparation.

“There are 85,000 chemicals in commerce right now in the United States, and we cannot possibly test all the chemicals for all their different properties,” says , an engineering professor at Arizona State University who researches how chemicals move through the environment and people. [..] the spill shed light on how little is known about many chemicals. Members of Congress have been debating for years whether to update the 1976 law that governs these chemicals, the Toxic Substances Control Act.

Critics Say Chemical Spill Highlights Lax West Virginia Regulations via The New York Times

The Charleston Gazette-Mail reported Sunday that a team of experts from the United States Chemical Safety Board asked the state three years ago to create a new program to prevent accidents and releases in the Kanawha Valley, known as Chemical Valley.

That came after investigation of the August 2008 explosion and fire that killed two workers at the Bayer CropScience plant in Institute, W.Va. No program was produced, and another team from the same board is expected to arrive Monday to investigate this accident.

Critics say the problems are widespread in a state where the coal and chemical industries, which drive much of West Virginia’s economy and are powerful forces in the state’s politics, have long pushed back against tight federal health, safety and environmental controls.

“West Virginia has a pattern of resisting federal oversight and what they consider E.P.A. interference, and that really puts workers and the population at risk,” said Jennifer Sass, a senior scientist at the Natural Resources Defense Council and a lecturer in environmental health at George Washington University.

West Virginia Chemical-Spill Site Avoided Broad Regulatory Scrutiny via the Washington Post

Officials Don’t Really Know How Dangerous the Chemical Spilled in West Virginia Is via Time.Com

Oklahoma’s Ban On Gay Marriage Is Unconstitutional, Judge Rules

By admin on January 15, 2014 at 11:29 am
Oklahomans for Equality seeks equal rights for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender (LGBT) individuals and families
Oklahomans for Equality seeks equal rights for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender (LGBT) individuals and families

More progress on the fight for legal gay marriage nationwide, this time in Oklahoma.

The state’s ban on marriage by gay and lesbian couples is “an arbitrary, irrational exclusion of just one class of Oklahoma citizens from a governmental benefit,” wrote Judge Terence C. Kern of United States District Court for the Northern District of Oklahoma, in Tulsa, deciding a case that had languished for nine years. The amendment, he said, is based on “moral disapproval” and does not advance the state’s asserted interests in promoting heterosexual marriage or the welfare of children. – New York Times

Read more.

Development Diamonds; An Interview with Dorothée Gizenga, Executive Director of the DDI

By admin on January 8, 2014 at 12:41 pm


Photo Credit: DDI – Registration of artisanal miners in the province of Kisangani, in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

Dorothée Gizenga, Executive Director of the Diamond Development Initiative (DDI) speaks about the DDI and its relationship to the Kimberely Process in an interview with Ethical Metalsmiths. Excerpt below:

EM: There is a relationship between DDI and the Kimberley Process. Can you explain the relationship and help our readers understand the difference in the regulatory aims of the Kimberley Process and the development goals of DDI?

DDI was created to complement the Kimberley Process, an international conflict prevention mechanism. We address the issues that are not within the Kimberley Process mandate. There are socio-economic issues affecting artisanal miners who mine diamonds in alluvial fields, where conflict diamonds started. We believe that conflict prevention requires resolution of these development issues, issues that will not disappear on their own without intervention.

DDI represents the first attempt to take a holistic approach to the challenges of artisanal alluvial diamond production, working with governments, miners, civil society and industry to solve problems that will not disappear on their own and need sustained support. Through education and projects working directly with artisanal miners, DDI seeks to promote better understanding and concrete solutions for issues relating to the artisanal diamond-mining sector.

The Kimberley Process is most challenged in the alluvial diamond areas, where internal controls required by the certification scheme are weak or non-existent. DDI is working with governments to increase internal controls through projects, and enhance the implementation of the KP through policies and project. After a number of years, the KP now recognizes the importance of development and its effectiveness.

Read the rest of the interview here.