Silver state shuts down mine

Utahans downwind of a mercury-spewing Nevada mine are rejoicing that the Nevada Department of Environmental Protection shut the mine down.

“This is a bold action they’ve taken,” Utah air quality director Cheryl Heying told the Salt Lake Tribune.

NDEP ordered Queenstake Resources’ Jerritt Canyon Mine north of Elko to shut down by St. Patrick’s Day and to install more effective emission-control equipment. Operation of its dirtiest “roasters” has already been halted.

Tests in 2004 showed the highest levels of toxic methylmercury ever found in a natural body of water in the Salt Lake region, and tests in Idaho produced additional alarming results. Nevada mining was suspected, though the link has not been proven conclusively. Two weeks ago the Utah Legislature allocated $100,000 for monitoring equipment to enhance the state’s ability to police the problem.