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Analysis of PolyMet impacts is inadequate, letter to DNR says

DULUTH —Forty-six doctors, nurses and other health-care professionals have signed a letter asking the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources to declare that the environmental review of the proposed PolyMet copper-nickel mine is inadequate.  The signatories – mostly from the Duluth area but also from the Twin Cities – said the study does not provide enough information about possible human health effects of air and water pollution, particularly sulfate, manganese and mercury. 

They said methyl mercury is linked to mental-health problems, lowered intelligence, behavior and memory problems. Ten percent of babies born along the North Shore of Lake Superior have unhealthy levels of mercury in their blood, according to a Minnesota Department of Health report in 2012.

The informal health group also said private drinking water wells are contaminated with manganese from an earlier taconite operation at the PolyMet site.

Frank Ongaro, executive director of Mining Minnesota, said he thinks the request is “disingenuous and fear-mongering.” He said Minnesota has competent agencies that have thorough requirements to protect the environment and human health. 

The public comment period for the environmental review ends Thursday. 

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