If it were built, the PolyMet/Glencore mine would increase pollution of the Fond du Lac Band’s reservation waters in - violation of the Band’s federally-approved water quality standards - due to: 1) untreated seepage from mine pits and wastes; 2) wastewater discharges without effluent limits; and 3) wetlands destruction, drying, and rewetting in violation of the Band’s federally-approved water quality standards.
The PolyMet/Glencore mine approved by the Army Corps wetlands destruction permit would increase mercury in water and toxic methylmercury in fish in the headwaters of the St. Louis River.
Methylmercury is a bioaccumulative toxin that concentrates in the food chain. It is not diluted. PolyMet mine pollution and wetlands destruction would, thus, increase mercury contamination far downstream in the St. Louis River, including Fond du Lac Reservation waters.
Fond du Lac Band members rely on fishing for subsistence and culture. Increased mercury contamination of fish would harm the health of fetuses, infants, and children, remove a healthy protein source, and undermine Band members’ ability to practice their culture on their homeland.
The Fond du Lac Band has a stringent mercury (0.77 nanograms/liter) standard to protect the health, nutrition, and culture of its members. PolyMet permits fail to ensure compliance with this standard. The Band and scientific experts have determined that the PolyMet federal permit will negatively affect its reservation waters and violate this water quality standards.
The Fond du Lac Band also has federally-approved water quality standards (300 µS/cm) limiting specific conductance ionic pollution that kills aquatic life and preventing degradation of water quality.
PolyMet pollution would increase the level of conductivity in the St. Louis River and on the Fond du Lac Reservation, degrading water quality.
Yet, neither the PolyMet final environmental impact statement nor any state or federal permit analyzes or limits specific conductance pollution. In fact, the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency recently repealed its water quality standard for specific conductance.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) evaluation agreed that the PolyMet permit would violate Fond du Lac Reservation water quality standards and the EPA recommended that the PolyMet Section 404 wetlands permit should not be reinstated.
Therefore, the Army Corps must revoke and not reissue the PolyMet permit to prevent violation of the water quality standards of the Fond du Lac Band as a “downstream state” and to comply with the Clean Water Act.
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Thank you for sending your comment today standing with the Fond du Lac Band to help protect the St. Louis River and Lake Superior from PolyMet mine increases in downstream toxic mercury contamination.