What this article fails to report is that dredging removes this mercury from the streams.
Study: Gold Rush-Era Mercury Flowing Downstream
An estimated 26 million pounds of mercury was used for gold recovery in the Sierra Nevada and Klamath-Trinity Mountains
The heavy metal tends to be loosened during major floods that occur about once a decade and likely will continue unless something is done to prevent mercury-laden sediment from eroding and ending up in the state’s agricultural heartland, according to the study published online Monday in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
“The problem is very serious indeed,” said lead author Michael Singer of the University of St. Andrews in Scotland.
During the 19th century gold rush, miners used mercury to process gold throughout the West. An estimated 26 million pounds of mercury was used for gold recovery in the Sierra Nevada and Klamath-Trinity Mountains.
Scientists have long known that mercury contamination from long-ago mining ends up in sediments and in stream channels. The metal sometimes converts into a more potent form that can be consumed by fish, amphibians and waterfowl.
Numerous waterways in Northern California downstream of mining activities post warnings about fish consumption.
In the latest study, a group of U.K. and U.S. researchers studied soil from a Sierra Nevada mining deposit and points downstream. Levels of mercury in the sediment were up to hundreds of times higher than background levels.
Then the team analyzed topographic maps, streamflow data and satellite images, and used computer modeling to show that the mercury in the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta and San Francisco Bay came from historic gold mining that was released during episodic floods.
Charles Alpers, a research chemist at the U.S. Geological Survey’s Sacramento office, said the findings show how important floods are in transporting mercury.
“This problem isn’t going to go away anytime soon,” said Alpers, who had no role in the study.
4 thoughts on “Mercury laiden CA streams”
Given the fact that mercury is like a magnet for gold, much of the gold being removed thru prospecting is removing mercury from the streams at the same time. When the State of California stopped suction dredging, they also stopped the free remediation of mercury from our rivers and streams.
Knowing that the State of California is paying 8-9 million of our tax dollars to hire contract dredging of Lake Combie on Bear River to remove estimated 80 pounds of mercury….Do the math on what they will have to pay to remove the estimated 26 million pounds of mercury in gold era streams. The removal cost per pound would be 8,000,000 / 80 which equals $100000 per pound. Total estimated cost to remove all mercury as the California Regulators propose would be estiimated at 2.6 trillion dollars. Knowing the way Government works that is likely a very low estimate, since it will be more costly for the government contractors to reach more remote areas. Remember…California’s Dredgers would still be paying the State of California to remediate this problem over time, if the State had not stopped them from dredging in 2009. The Regulators and Legislators and Governor obviously are not representing the public….They are just plunging us deeper in debt, needlessly, in this case.
You might ask how much each of us tax paying Californian’s could have to pay to pay for this frivalous environmental cleanup? Since about 50% of California’s population actually pays taxes we need to divide the 2.6 trillion dollars by 15 million taxpayers….Cost to each taxpayer would be $173,000. Or the other option would be to issue dredging permits that would give state approximately $200,000 (4000 permits @$50 each) of permit revenue, and would get the mercury removed over time by the dredgers for free. But how would the politicians and the environmentalists get their cut?….they shouldn’t and they wouldn’t!!!!
We both know John that this isn’t about revenue or mercury. They don’t give one damn about that, it is about their agenda……….everything else does not matter to them, including what is best for the environment, the people or the country.
I know that they want total control. They don’t want us living or working or recreating in the mountains and rural areas. They want us all in high density fenced in housing to make it easier to control us. Unfortunately, most of the voting public is having a hard time believing just how far our government could go in taking away the American way of life as we have known it. Hopefully a lot of these voters will have a change of heart in the next election when they have had a chance to reflect on how punitive and vindictive our government has become. The only conclusion I can come to is that their agenda is to destroy the American Capitalistic System, and they appear to be well on their way to achieving their goal. I still have faith that we are still a Christian Nation, in spite of President’s assessment that we are not a Christian Nation. I believe that God can and will help Praying Christians to overcome the Evil that exists in our Leaders Agenda.