Digging disaster

Published: Tuesday 15 April 1997

the us administration recently slapped a lawsuit on mining companies operating in the Silver Valley of Idaho for causing pollution. Over several decades, lead, zinc and other toxic metals have been leaching out of the tailing pipes that line the valley and the south fork of the Coeur d'Alene river. The polluted river winds its way to the scenic Coeur d' Alene lake. According to findings of the Geological Survey of us, last year more than 450,000 kg of lead washed into the lake in one day of flooding . Mining companies have made more than us $5 million by mining silver, lead and zinc from the valley.

The us justice department estimates that accumulated environmental damages could run into "hundreds of millions of dollars". The mining companies are counter-suing the government, alleging that it had encouraged them to operate full-steam - ignoring environmental safeguards - during the wars of this century.

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