Tribal Members Criticize Clearcutting Plan at Midnight Mine

By Steve Jackson

The clean up of the old Midnight Mine on the Spokane Indian reservation is causing some friction in the community.  The mine operated on the Spokane Indian reservation from 1955-1981. The uranium mine site was listed as a Superfund site in 2000.
The latest plans to fill in open pits left from the mine excavations is coming under fire from some tribal members. Deb Abrahamson says the tribal council agreed to allow the mine owner, Dawn Mining (a subsidiary of Newmont mining), to purchase land adjacent to the site. The company plans to clearcut that property, to access fill dirt for the clean up.

Abrahamson: “Our concern is that is increases the footprint of the mine site. It undermines our tribal sovereignty, the mining company has already as the destructive force it has been. This is like we are giving it another break to destroy."

Abrahamson says she and some other tribal members would have preferred the mining company bring in fill dirt from a location outside the reservation. But they were told by the company that trucks traffic would be as high as one truck coming in every one and a half minutes. But she claims that information was not substantiated by any type of transportation study.
The tribal council signed off on the agreement with the company for the clean up procedures. Calls to the tribal chairman were not returned. A mining company official told us the dispute was between the council and some tribal members and did not want to comment.
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