Lack of Attention to 1983 Borah Earthquake Raised in Idaho Gold Mine Controversy

The Boise Weekly reports Idaho has received its first application in more than 10 years for a new cyanidation gold mining facility. Desert Mineral Mining’s proposed small facility is located a 15-mile crow’s flight from downtown Boise off of Blacks Creek Road in northwest Elmore County. The article notes that 90 percent of the gold mined in the U.S.uses cyanide. The article criticizes the application because it is not even mention the earthquake hazard of the Borah 7.3 quake in 1983.

Cyanide solutions readily bond with gold, silver and other metals, which is why the mining industry uses it. Cyanide is usually stored and transported as a solid. It is stable when dry. Most cyanide solids will dissolve in water to produce toxic cyanide gas. Cyanide gas is colorless and smells like bitter almonds. How does cyanide affect living organisms?
Cyanide is highly toxic. It is the killing agent used in gas chambers. Cyanide poisoning can occur through inhalation, ingestion, and skin or eye contact. One teaspoon of a 2% solution can kill a person. In general, fish and other aquatic life are killed by cyanide concentrations in the microgram per liter (part per billion) range, whereas bird and mammal deaths result from cyanide concentrations in the milligram per liter (part per million) range. Evidence shows that cyanide compounds linger in affected plant and fish tissues and can persist in the environment for long periods of time.

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