Good evening, readers. (Can you pretend you're hearing this around a crackling fireplace and I somehow have a low English accent? Somehow this is how I picture my story time sessions...)
First of all, I would just like to say I don't really understand mining. I do know that when one does mine one cannot just stick one's machines into the ground and find pure copper. It turns out one finds lots of useless bits too, and it has to go somewhere. At Holden, there are three "tailings piles" where all the extra non-profitable earth pieces went. It's just rocks and minerals and silt and sand, you say? That can't be bad for you. Well, yes it can.
At Holden, the tailings leaked into the adjacent Railroad Creek and killed lots of benthic macroinvertebrates, which is a fish's yummiest treat. So no fish for you, Railroad Creek. The USFS and the EPA required a cleanup under the federal Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act of 1980 and the National Oil and Hazardous Substances Pollution Contingency Plan. Oh dear! Those sound dreadful and complicated. No worries. It's like the government acting like your mother and enforcing you to clean-up your hazardous wastes.
Wait. Who's cleaning this mess up at Railroad Creek Valley, you may ask? Ah yes, very good question, my friend. Rio Tinto, the supposedly second largest mining company in the world is now the current claim holder of Howe Sound (after several mergings before that) and is in charge of the remediation. For the last couple of years, Holden has not had guests or its normal hospitality service due to this ongoing cleanup.
It has been remarkably interesting to witness this dynamic, to say the least. One of the biggest mining companies in the world plus its subcontractors are currently living and working in the same small remote mountain village with a non-profit organization. Challenging is a word that comes to mind, along with do-able. Sometimes reality isn't ideal but 'tis life, I suppose. Spirits continue to be up in the village and that's all you can really ask for.
Until next time, my friends.