A group of doctors and environmentalists in Salt Lake City have joined the Occupy movement to sue the third-largest mining corporation in the world for allegedly violating the Clean Air Act with practices that contribute to thousands of pollution-related deaths in Utah each year. The company, Rio Tinto/Kennecott, pulled in a record $15 billion in profits last year. —ARK
... Medical research in the last ten years has firmly established that air pollution causes the same broad array of diseases well known to result from first- and secondhand cigarette smoke—strokes, heart attacks, high blood pressure, virtually every kind of lung disease, neurologic diseases like Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, loss of intelligence, chromosomal damage, higher rates of diabetes, obesity, adverse birth outcomes, and various cancers such as lung cancer, breast cancer and leukemia.
Most of Utah’s cities are in violation of many of the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) national air quality standards, and for several days during a typical winter, Utah is plagued by the worst air pollution in the country. The American Lung Association routinely gives Utah’s largest cities an “F” for our air quality. Last February, Forbes Magazine, hardly a cheerleader for excessive environmental protection, rated Salt Lake City as the ninth most toxic city in the country, and the biggest contributor to that ranking was the mining and smelting operations at the Bingham Canyon mine, run by London-based mining conglomerate Rio Tinto/Kennecott (RTK).
This is the world’s largest open-pit mine and has created the largest mining-related water pollution problem in the world. The mine is located on the western doorstep of Salt Lake City, home to 1.8 million people. There is no comparable juxtaposition of an enormous mining operation this close to such a large urban center. RTK’s mine and smelter operations account for 30 percent of the particulate matter emitted into the atmosphere over Salt Lake County, making it by far the largest source of industrial pollution in the urban areas of Utah.