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Did You Hear the One About Mercury Pollution?

January 30, 2007


Environmental activists and Native Americans are hoping a big green and white billboard and a little dose of humor will drive home their point about mercury pollution in Nevada. Dan Randolph with Great Basin Mine Watch says the billboard uses a little joke about a side effect of mercury pollution to call attention to one of the state's biggest health hazards.

"It says 'Exposure to mercury causes learning disabilities and memory loss, not to mention memory loss.' It's very humorous; we're wanting to draw more attention to the mercury issue in Nevada, from the gold mines."

Mine operators say they are already doing their part to clean up emissions under the terms of a new state law, but Randolph says compliance with the law is only voluntary, so more needs to be done.

Larson Bill with the Western Shoshone Defense Project says his group paid to help put up the billboard because Native Americans have particular concerns with what he calls unregulated mercury pollution.

"We're talking plant life, animal life, fish life, bird life; it's a big concern that everybody's not really listening to, but when it effect them, they'll listen."

Randolph adds that the billboard is part of a public education campaign. It doesn't hurt that it's not far from Reno airports, so plenty of lawmakers should see it on the way to Carson City.

"Most people when they think of mercury pollution, think of coal fired power plants, but here in Nevada the mines are a much bigger source, they formed the top mercury hot spot in the U.S."

Michael Clifford/Craig Eicher, Public News Service - NV