Lower Slate Lake dam would be a time bomb

Posted: Monday, August 13, 2007

A line in Benjamin Brown's Aug. 2 column regarding the Kensington Mine struck me as symptomatic of a mind-set that has governed, and still governs to an alarming degree, our relationship to the natural world.

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In pondering all the fuss over Lower Slate Lake, he said, "To me, it seemed like an average Southeast pond surrounded by muskeg." Surely an innocent remark, but freighted with a predisposition that dismisses the lake's part in a larger system. And save for the 9th Circuit Court's decision against the plan to use the lake as a dump for millions of tons of mine tailings, held in check by a massive dam, this would no longer be an average pond.

Rather, it would be a time bomb. Over the years, as with all things constructed by humans, the dam would fail and the stored poisons would drain into Berners Bay. This would occur long after the mine's ores had been exhausted and the mine abandoned and forgotten. The lake would have re-established its linkage in the natural system only to pollute it.

All this for a short-term, bottom-line consideration that was a gamble from the start.

Bill Brown


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