REPORT: Another possible PolyMet EIS delay

The Partridge River in St. Louis County, Minnesota.

A key data error from reports on the Partridge River, seen here, near the proposed PolyMet mine site, could delay the EIS and permit process even more. PHOTO: Save our Sky Blue Waters

Marshall Helmberger reported in the Timberjay this week and on Northern Community Radio this morning that hydrologists have discovered an error in part of the PolyMet EIS (Environmental Impact Study) (link: subscription only until next week). The Star Tribune also picked up on the story.

The error causes some serious flaws in the projection model used to assess most of the water quality in the study. Helmberger reports that his sources say public agencies may have to go back for up to another year of data in order to recalculate the model properly. This would, of course, cause another delay in a process that has taken almost nine years already.

It’s not clear what the error means, if anything yet, about the environmental dangers of sulfide mining in the area near the former LTV site in Hoyt Lakes, Minnesota. But a matter of this importance requires an accurate environmental impact model.

The howls of protest that would come with another delay, however, will be heard far and wide.

This past Wednesday night brought the second of three public comment forums about the PolyMet EIS, this one held on the Iron Range in Aurora, Minnesota. About 700 people attended that event, mostly locals in favor of the project. About 1,500 people attended the first hearing in Duluth last week. The final hearing will be held next Tuesday at the RiverCenter in St. Paul.

Though, as this report indicates, these forums might prove to be just another opportunity for everyone to voice their strong opinions, without much impact on the process — which drags on. This Sunday I’ll have a major column about what the Iron Range needs to do instead of worrying about this one project so very much.

To hear Marshall’s interview on Northern Community Radio, go to, select “Listen” and “Archives” and tune in to the 7:20 a.m. segment.

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