Payette Lake Fish High in Mercury

Fish and Game warns anglers about eating mercury laden fish in many of SW Idaho's waterways. Now the Idaho Division of Public Health is warning about fish in Payette Lake, the ever popular recreational area vital to the City of McCall. Not surprising, since McCall is just downwind from the Ash Grove Cement Co. in Durkee, southeast of Baker City, Oregon, which, in 2008, was the fifth largest mercury polluter in the nation. Mercury is a dangerous neurotoxin, especially for children. It interferes with the brain and nervous systems, resulting in birth defects, loss of IQ and developmental problems. Those massive watersheds capture the airborne mercury and bring it right down into our waterways, the lifeblood of Idaho. The EPA sharply curtailed these emissions. No Republicans were utilized in getting the EPA to protect Idaho's water. Indeed Congressman Simpson looks to reward them by slashing EPA's budget.

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Just downwind?

I've driven by Durkee and to McCall many times, and would never have thought to connect those dots. It wouldn't surprise me that some of the mercury from the former has reached the latter--there's a lot to go around--but it would surprise me to learn that McCall is very regularly downwind of Durkee. I'd expect NW and SE flow to predominate around there... which would make Boise more downwind than McCall.

Oh please

if you don't trust me, then consult Rocky Barker. He also made the reference. I've looked from the Seven Devils into the Eagle Cap, and vice versa. It's kinda why a linked a map. They are opposite sides of the same drainage and there's no contesting the prevailing westerly. Its no stretch to match this drainage issue as the same reason Boise spiked on radiation from Fukushima.

Trust you?

Just thinking out loud about local weather patterns, don't take it all personal-like.

The difference between NW and W matter for some of the things I do, but I'll admit I spend most of my time on the surface and influenced by topography. I am interested in the issue, and have written about it from time to time: Ten Years and Four Lawsuits Later, Mercury in Them Thar Hills, and US House says YES!

The first 2 of those were in 2008, the last one relates to Rep. Mike Simpson's current vendetta against "regulation" in general and the EPA in particular, that may well result in more mercury coming our way ("our way" including the Payette and Boise river drainages as well as the Snake River and its reservoirs).

While we're talking about mercury and cement kilns

Last summer, Earthjustice celebrated the EPA's announced "plans to cut more than 16,000 pounds of mercury from our nation's cement kilns every year, starting in 2013." And it turns out that the Durkee plant is the second-largest source of airborne mercury in the country, according to the EPA, thanks to what's in the source limestone they're mining.

News last August was that the EPA would not waive emission regulations for the plant, but that it would slow-play their implementation. Simpson's anti-EPA crusade may thus shoot his own state in the foot (even if gee, his CD-2 only gets the bullet after it passes through CD-1).

Meanwhile, over in Oregon

The Baker City Herald has a lot more coverage of Ash Grove, including the company's lawsuit against the EPA filed in November, and Oregon's Rep. Greg Walden's efforts to flat-out nullify the EPA's mercury emissions rule for cement plants.

The Herald's editorial board sort of supports regulation, but "fairness" to them means that Ash Grove should get credit for effort, and be allowed to emit more because they have more.

(Good search facility on the Herald's news site.)

Thanks for all the great homework.

Yeah, I recalled seeing that it was the second biggest point source and concluded that Rocky's assertion that it's the fifth largest mercury polluter made the legal distinction regarding a "point source".