| A crude but revealing
cross polarized light microscope |
image of a sample of asbestiform grunerite,
one of the most dangerous forms of asbestos,
collected at the GTac mine site by Dr. Skulan
Image first published at:
Wisconsin Citizens Media Cooperative Authentic News
From Dr. Joseph Skulan's Open Letter: Presence of dangerous asbestiform grunerite has been proven by multiple independent analyses
The president of the company seeking to open an iron ore mine in northern Wisconsin said on Friday that he didn't know whether an ongoing investigation into a mine he previously managed will affect the new project. The investigation is looking into whether a mine he previously managed contaminated a Spanish aquifer with arsenic.
Bill Williams was director of mining and technical resources for Cobre Las Cruces, which opened a major copper mine in southern Spain in 2009. He left the company in 2011 and became president of Gogebic Taconite, which is based in Florida but has an office in Hurley, Wisconsin. Gogebic Taconite has proposed opening a $1.5bn iron ore mine near Lake Superior in Ashland and Iron counties.
Williams and company officials are in the process of submitting a formal application to state regulators for the mine, which would cover a four-mile area. The plan has generated opposition from environmentalists, members of the Bad River Band of Lake Superior Chippewa, who live in the area, and others who fear the mine will pollute one of Wisconsin's last pristine regions. Gogebic's interest in the project began in 2010, before Williams joined the company. ...
Cobre Las Cruces, which has a major copper mine in southern Spain, has been accused of contaminating a nearby aquifer with arsenic. It's not unusual to have problematic levels of arsenic in water when mining, but it's not known whether that would be an issue with the Wisconsin mine, said Tom Evans, a retired geologist from the Wisconsin Geological and Natural History Survey. Problems, whether related to arsenic or other potential contaminants, can be properly mitigated, Evans said.
"You have to design a project that will deal with that one way or another," he said. "There is no mining of these kind of deposits that are inherently safe. They all are inherently problematic, or dangerous, whatever word you want to use, because you are disrupting things."
Opponents of the Wisconsin mine have seized on news of the probe, circulating reports of it on social media and websites.
From Dr. Joseph Skulan's Open Letter to the Press Regarding GTac:
The following passage appears in GTac’s revised bulk sample plan, released on the DNR website today:
The grunerite [asbestos] issue has been the subject of a media debate and the removal of these areas leaves the debate to be resolved by the systematic and scientific study of the issue that will be required within the permit application. Our position remains that asbestiform material is unlikely to be present in the reserve, but will defer to a proven and methodical approach to address the potential of asbestiform materials in the future mining permit application.
My question is this: why has the press continued to report that the presence of grunerite asbestos within the GTac mine site is a matter of debate? It is not.
The presence of asbestiform grunerite has been proven by multiple independent analyses, and can be documented by anyone who takes to trouble to walk the Penokee ridge. This is not a “he said, she said” story. It is not a story with two sides, at least not if those two sides are questioning if asbestos is or is not present. That is a scientific question, a question of objective fact, and it is a question that has been settled. The debate should be about the severity of the danger posed by the asbestos, which is not a settled question.
The GTac statement is not credible. It is either an outright lie or an expression of astounding ignorance and incompetence. Will the press report it as such, or will it continue to report it as one side in a controversy, and thereby help to maintain the muddled and confused state of public debate over the mining issue, a confusion that largely springs from the portrayal of objective reality as a matter of opinion? If GTac claimed that the Penokees were 6,000 years old, they would be no more unscientific than when they claim that the presence of asbestos is still an open question. In fact, their denial of asbestos is worse than creationism, because unlike the age of the earth, the presence of asbestos at the GTac mine site can be directly observed by anyone who takes the effort to carefully examine the rocks.
I repeat my offer to you or any other journalist: Let me take you up to the asbestos-bearing outcrops in the Penokees. Take your own sample, and send it off to an independent lab for analysis.
GTac is entitled to argue in favor of a mine. No reasonable person would expect them to do anything else. But GTac’s continued denial of the objective facts prevents any rational debate about the mine, and is frankly insulting to the scientists who have looked at the issue.
Dr. Joseph Skulan
Video of a one-on-one meeting with GTac at the Ashland Library on November 13, 2013. GTac claims the confirmed presence of asbestos and sulfides are "media issues" and urged people not to listen to the "witchy" information given by several credentialed scientists. Video by Danielle Kaeding