Deformities in trout caused by selenium
All kinds of deformities in trout caused by selenium released from the Smoky Canyon Mine. The photo is from Simplot’s research. Same deformities were found in many ripe female brown trout captured in Sage Creek and spawned in a lab situation. Dr. Joseph Skorupa reviewed Simplot’s research and dismissed it as bogus. The link to his peer-reviewed report appears below.
Scientific review blasts Simplot’s selenium report
IDAHO FALLS, Idaho — The J.R. Simplot Co. is dramatically underestimating the toxic impacts of selenium poisoning on trout and other fish in southwest Greater Yellowstone streams from its Smoky Canyon phosphate mine, a new scientific review by the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (USFWS) reveals. The review itself was peer reviewed by three independent scientists.
In decrying Simplot’s report on selenium runoff, USFWS cited “multiple distinct scientific issues” and confirmed the presence of two-headed brown trout in southeast Idaho streams. A press release from a group called Planetary Solutions in Sacramento, Calif., includes a photo of two-headed trout taken by Simplot’s own biologists.
USFWS’s “Technical Review Package”, which has been sent to the U.S. Senate Environmental and Public Works Committee chaired by Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.), identifies selenium poisoning from phosphate mining as the cause of these fish deformities.
The review was conducted in response to Simplot’s request for a “site-specific” exemption to clean-water laws at the Smoky Canyon Mine. The mine on the Idaho-Wyoming border is one of 17 federal Superfund sites requiring cleanup in the phosphate district.
“This should put a screeching halt to Simplot’s continued efforts to skirt laws intended to protect clean water,” said Marv Hoyt, Idaho Director for the Greater Yellowstone Coalition in Idaho Falls. “The silver lining for Simplot is that they can provide good jobs for southeast Idahoans cleaning up the company’s toxic mining messes.”
Ironically, the two-headed fish data was furnished by the J.R. Simplot Co. in its 2009 bid to obtain the so-called “site-specific criterion” for its mine in the headwaters for southeast Idaho’s Sage and Crow creeks, whose waters flow into the Salt and then Snake rivers. Simplot’s research also shows a decline of 20 percent or higher in trout populations due to selenium.
Selenium runoff is caused when phosphate-mining companies scrape away topsoil, exposing rock to rain and snowmelt. Large concentrations of selenium are lethal. Hundreds of sheep have perished, along with at least 18 head of cattle, six horses and countless fish and wildlife.
Under federal laws, phosphate-mining companies are required to not just reclaim land after they have finished mining, but to insure no toxic selenium is released. Thus far, none have.
--Great Yellowstone Coalition