Should Gov. Dayton intervene to address water pollution at the proposed PolyMet mine?

“Environmental groups implored Gov. Mark Dayton on Monday to push for changes to PolyMet Mining’s plans to mine copper, nickel and precious metals near the Boundary Waters,” writes MPR News reporter Dan Kraker.

They claim the changes will help prevent a potentially catastrophic accident in a water-rich and ecologically sensitive region of the state.

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources last week sent a 3,100-page preliminary environmental report on the project to the federal Environmental Protection Agency and three Minnesota Indian tribes for review. The DNR intends to release the study for public comment later this fall.

But the environmental groups, calling themselves Mining Truth, want Dayton to step in now. They say the report acknowledges that water quality treatment will be needed “indefinitely” after the mine closes to prevent water pollution from escaping.

And they say PolyMet’s plan to store mine waste does not take into account recommendations made in the wake of a major mine accident last year in British Columbia, Canada, when a tailings dam broke at the Mount Polley copper and gold mine, flooding nearby waterways with over 1 billion gallons of waste. (PolyMet does not own Mount Polley.)

“Since the Legislature has failed to act, and the Department of Natural Resources has not required PolyMet to implement the recommendations of the expert review panel at Mount Polley,” said Aaron Klemz with Friends of the Boundary Waters Wilderness, “it’s up to Gov. Dayton to do what’s needed to protect Minnesota’s clean water.”