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Report: Proposal for Maine Mining Operation Environmentally Risky
10/10/2013 04:06 PM ET  

The Natural Resources Council of Maine says records obtained through Maine's Freedom of Access law showed that a proposal for an open pit mining operation in Aroostook County poses serious environmental risks.

A new report released this week by an environmental group finds that data contained in two decades-old mining proposals show significant risk to the environment from a potential open pit mining operation in Aroostook County. But the Natural Resources Council of Maine says the reports weren't made public by the state.

"And what we found in the analysis was one consultant after another raising really serious red flags about the environmental risks of doing any sort of open pit mine at Bald Mountain," says the NRCM's Pete Didisheim.

Didisheim says records obtained through Maine's Freedom of Access law showed that the area's waterways were likely to be contaminated from acids and heavy metals.

Recently approved legislation allows for the possibility of open pit mining. But Didisheim says the Maine Department of Environmental Protection witheld the information and refused to allow its technical staff to testify before the Legislature.

But DEP officials deny that. "There was no attempt to withhold those documents from the public. And as soon as somebody asked for them, we provided them," says DEP Policy Director Heather Parent.

Parent says technical staff were present at all 10 of the work sessions held on the mining legislation. And she says four boxes of old data on the mining proposals were in the department's public viewing area.

The report comes a week before a public hearing on proposed draft mining rules, set to take place Oct. 17 in Augusta.

This story was reported and written by Jennifer Mitchell.


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