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Thousands Comment on Proposed Monsanto Mine where Company would Dig for Key Roundup Ingredient

November 25, 2009
by John Miller

A proposed Monsanto Co. phosphate mine slated to produce ingredients for Roundup weedkiller generated nearly 7,000 public comments, including from a former U.S. Interior secretary who urges its approval and the Environmental Protection Agency, which wants additional pollution safeguards.

The Bureau of Land Management will review the comments to see if a plan for the Blackfoot Bridge Mine released earlier this year merits changes. Final approval of the mine could come by next summer.

"This is the type of project Idaho needs - sustaining, good-paying jobs filled by solid, hard-working people, and protecting our environment at the same time," wrote Cecil Andrus, the former Idaho governor and Interior secretary whose public relations firm is under contract with Monsanto.

The EPA raised concerns about possible failure of a proposed $25 million liner meant to stop naturally occurring but poisonous selenium before it reaches the Blackfoot River.

The BLM's plan "assumes that source control will be highly effective," according to EPA comments. "Based on experience at numerous other hardrock mine sites in the western U.S., it is highly likely that additional measures... may be necessary."

The EPA is already pushing Monsanto to resolve Clean Water Act violations at the mine that Blackfoot Bridge is due to replace in 2011.

Monsanto, the J.R. Simplot Co., and Canadian-based Agrium Inc. are among companies that have polluted at least 17 sites in Idaho's phosphate belt southwest of Yellowstone and Grand Teton national parks with a century of mining. Hundreds of livestock have died of selenium poisoning at Simplot- and Agrium-controlled sites, including 18 cattle in August.

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