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Coastal Chromium Strip Mines Challenged

The Portland-based environmental group is contesting the permitting process for four different strip mines between the coastal towns of Bandon and Charleston.

The Oregon Coast Alliance is suing the Army Corps of Engineers and the National Marine Fisheries Service.

The Oregon Resource Corporation plans to begin excavation early next year on the four chromium mines.

Chromium is a mineral used in the production of stainless steel.

In the lawsuit, the Oregon Coast Alliance claims the federal agencies took a number of short-cuts in approving the project. 

Cameron La Follette is the Land Use Director for the Oregon Coast Alliance.   She says the sites have been shown to contain hexavalent chromium. That’s a naturally occurring toxic chemical and a known carcinogen. 

La Follette says questions remain unanswered about whether these mining operations pose a contamination risk.

Cameron La Follette: “Nobody knows. And should we make the 200 and some residents, plus the local streams which are all small streams that go directly into the Pacific Ocean, should we make all those the guinea pigs?” 

Jerry Fish, an attorney for Oregon Resource Corporation says the issue has been studied carefully and believes the agencies acted properly.

The National Marine Fisheries Service declined to comment on the lawsuit. Army Corps of Engineers couldn’t be reached.

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