Berkley Pit, the EPA and the Columbia River…

A little brief history for those of you that do not know of the Berkeley Pit and the effects on the Columbia River.

I thought it was bad enough that the Army Corps of Engineers wanted to dredge the river and dump the spoils on the crab grounds outside of the mouth of the Columbia River.

Living in and around the mouth of the Columbia River we were victims of the save salmon bunch, who by the way is implementing the Agenda 21 charter, I saw the fervor and nasty fighting about the health and welfare of the river itself and the fish. Oh by the way it is never really about the fish or animals or insect or plants,it is about big money. Not just at the highest corporate level, it is also, about the one on the ground, that is paid by grant money.

You see, the way government moneys work “if you don’t use it, you lose it”. This means that if you acquired a grant for $10 dollars you best use all $10 or the next grant cycle you will get less. That also means the one person hired specifically with the grant money will also lose their job, because the money will not be there for them to work.

The NGO (non-governmental organization)work on the Columbia River has been working for nearly 20 years with this idea in mind. You use it or lose it then you lose a paid employee. Then those with the money no longer spend money in the community. Then those people need to move to find another job in their expertise. Boy sounds bad considering these are the same people who think small communities need to have their lively hoods taken away in order to save the what ever.

berkeley pit

Now we look at the Berkeley pit. You ask how does the pit related to the Columbia River? Very good question, especially since it is located in Butte, Montana. The Berkeley pit is a big pit created by mining operations that date back to 1955. There was mining on the hill dating back to 1864 first gold then silver and the big money-maker copper. The pit is a mile wide by 1/2 mile long and 1780 feet deep. The soil has been leaching minerals for years into the water in the pit. The water that is heavily acidic (2.5 pH), about the acidity of cola or lemon juice. As a result, the pit is laden with heavy metals and dangerous chemicals that leach from the rock, including copper, arsenic, cadmium, zinc, and sulfuric acid.

Keep in mind if the pit spills it’s water, where will it go??

Now enter the EPA. The Columbia river has been one of the main rivers on the EPA and UN radar. It is a big river and is a main source for electricity for the northwest. It supports large shipping in and out to the world. What has taken place at the mouth of the river is a fervor to make the river as pristine as it was when Lewis and Clark lay on the logs during a long winter storm. The EPA has given every regulation that is needed to take land, clean land push out the nominal land owners in the name of cleaning the environment.

EPA and the Berkeley pit is a conundrum. The EPA has announced that the water in the Pit will not be pumped out and cleaned until  The water level is at 5319 the critical water level is 5410 above sea level. The critical water level number means this is when they(whoever they are) will start-up the water treatment plant to empty the pit or at least reduce the water level. The treated water will be released into Silver Bow Creek that empties into the Clark fork that empties into Lake Pendoreille that then empties into THE Columbia river.

The problem with this is the potential for sloughing kind of like calving with an iceberg. The soil surrounding the pit becomes unstable due to weather and other man-made conditions and it sloughs off falling into the pit. The water displacement is at a potential enough level to spill out of the pit. Kind of like sticking your hand in a full bucket of water, what happens to that water?

In the mean time they are telling the people of Butte that the water treatment is not needed until 2023.  BUT preparations to bring the plant online will start in 2019, at which time they will reevaluate the situation in case new technology is available to implement.

What I think and other experts have also stated is that the water cannot be treated enough to bring it up to drinking standards and EPA really doesn’t know what to do. So the smoke and mirrors have been giving them time to maybe come up with a process to actually treat the water.

The areas in and around Butte, Montana have been the largest Superfund sight in the country for 30 years. Much of the soil cleanup is nearing completion. This means the many employed working on the soil cleanup will have to move on. The next phase of work is the water treatment. Currently the EPA is waiting, why? Could it be they have no idea how to treat the water? Could it be they really do not want to spend the money on water treatment? Or could it be the simple “Use it or Lose it” theory. Let the water contaminate the creeks and rivers, the soils and the people. All of a sudden it becomes the biggest Superfund sight again. The money flows and every who might have lost their job are now on for another 30 years. Yay win win right?

Ask yourself what will happen to the Columbia River, Clark Fork, Lake Pondereille if in fact the water from the Berkeley pit begins to flow into these waterways. For 30 years these water ways have been being cleaned. The money that has been spent to mitigate fish, wetlands and big business has been in the billions. Frankly if they let the water flow they(NGO’s, Army Corp of Engineers, Fish and Wildlife and others) need to give us back our farm and compensate us for  the grief of losing it to them in the first place. The cleaned rivers and soils will need to be cleaned again. More land taken for habitat and more land mitigated for fish, wildlife and plant life. (More land taken) and for what because they(EPA) couldn’t see the snowball effect dealing with a Superfund sight or maybe they actually did see it?

columbia river at sunset

Relax everyone BP is in charge, 50 thousand barrels a day for weeks spewing into the gulf, when asked about it “its a big ocean I’m going sailing” the BP CEO Tony Hayward. And of course our top CEO in charge of the EPA is golfing. All is well.

 

 

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