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I'll list any interesting mine related news here as it becomes available.

 
   State issues mercury warning
   Toxic metal from mining taints Sierra lakes, streams, fish.
 
   By Stuart Leavenworth -- Bee Staff Writer

   Published 2:15 a.m. PST Wednesday, December 17, 2003
 
   State health officials urged anglers Tuesday to curb their consumption of fish from
   five Sierra reservoirs and parts of the Bear and South Yuba rivers because of toxic
   mercury found in bass, catfish and trout.
   The mercury warning marks the first time the California Environmental Protection
   Agency has issued a formal health advisory for fish taken from a Sierra lake or
   stream. It probably won't be the last. Authorities expect there will be many more
   warnings as scientists test waters below hundreds of old mines in the Sierra
   Mother Lode, where miners used toxic mercury to separate gold from ore.
     "People view the Sierra Nevada as pristine, but mercury was used in gold mining," said Allan Hirsch, a spokesman for Cal-EPA. "Now we are seeing the same
   contamination we have seen in other parts of the state." A highly toxic metal, mercury builds up in fish reaching its highest concentrations in species such as bass and catfish.
   Women and children are particularly at risk, because regular consumption of
   mercury-laden fish can impair brain functions in developing infants and fetuses.
   Hirsch noted that people can still fish and eat some of their catch in waters
   affected by the advisory, which include such popular lakes as Rollins Reservoir and
   Englebright Lake.
   On the other hand, health officials want women and children to limit their bass and
   catfish consumption to one or two meals a month, and to completely stop eating
   bass from Camp Far West Reservoir in Yuba County, which contains some of the
   highest mercury concentrations in fish and sediment yet found in the Sierra.
   The advisories weren't completely unexpected. Over the last two decades, Cal-EPA
   has issued fish mercury warnings for 14 water bodies statewide, including the San
   Francisco Bay and the Sacramento-Joaquin Delta.
   Across the country, hundreds of water bodies are polluted with mercury, much of it
   coming from coal-burning power plants that release the toxic metal in their
   smokestacks.
   In 1999, a U.S. Geological Survey study found worrisome levels of Gold Rush
   mercury in fish from the Yuba and Bear river watersheds. State and county officials
   issued an interim warning in 2002 for all the water affected Tuesday. But it took
   three years for Cal-EPA to complete Tuesday's final advisory, which is somewhat
   more protective than the earlier version.
   Scientists aren't optimistic about cleaning up these waters any time soon.
   "There is no silver bullet," said Charles Alpers, a USGS geologist and one of the
   first researchers to shine a light on mercury problems in the Sierra.
   Although the Forest Service and other agencies are plugging some old mines in
   the Sierra, he said, there is still tons of mercury-laden sediment in reservoirs that
   continues to transform into methylmercury, a form that's easily taken up by fish.
   The advisories themselves are also in question. Purely informational, they come
   with no enforcement authority or requirement that state or county officials post
   signs or educate anglers.
   Some marina owners doubt they will have much impact on their business.
   "A lot of people catch and release (their fish) anyway," said Karol Miller, an
   employee at the Skipper's Cove Marina at Englebright Lake.
   Earlier this month, the state issued a fish consumption advisory for Black Butte,
   Stony Gorge and East Park reservoirs in Glenn, Tehama and Colusa counties,
   which sit downstream of mercury mines in the Coastal Range.
   The two separate advisories, with recommended consumption levels for different
   species of fish, can be found at www .oehha.ca.gov, the Web site of Cal-EPA's
   Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment.
 
  Makes you wonder why anyone would want to go in some of these northern mines!