Suction dredge mining is currently banned in California, but some suggest miners are sidestepping the law by excluding a key piece of equipment and suction dredging anyway.
By removing the “sluice box” from the suction dredge, miners avoid the technical definition of a suction dredge, but also spew far more toxic mercury into the waterways.
This from a Center For Biological Diversity press release:
SACRAMENTO, Calif.— A coalition including environmental organizations, fishermen and the Karuk tribe submitted a formal petition to the California Department of Fish and Wildlife today asking the agency to close a loophole it created allowing recreational miners to return to a technique called suction dredging by making equipment modifications that sidestep state law and worsen impacts to the environment. Because state wildlife officials narrowed state rules to define a suction dredge as a hose, motor and sluice box, miners are simply removing the sluice box — an alteration that leaves dredge spoils containing highly toxic mercury piling up along waterways.
“Suction dredge mining continues to pollute our waterways with toxic mercury and destroy sensitive wildlife habitat,” said Jonathan Evans with the Center for Biological Diversity. “Backroom approvals of uncontrolled suction dredge mining violate the public trust right along with the law.”
For more information, read this.