Oregon Sierra Club volunteer Dan Cobb is so passionate about protecting our most special places, he wrote a book about it!
Set in Portland, the Wallowa Mountains, and Washington State’s San Juan Islands, THE MINE is a chilling thriller that captures the live and death struggle of a young Portland couple as they work to close down a massive illegal gold mine in eastern Oregon. The story is loosely based on the Summitville Mine disaster, where in 1990 a massive flood of cyanide, sulfuric acid, arsenic, and heavy metals decimated 17 miles of the Alamosa River and contaminated downstream farmland.
And Dan has graciously agreed to donate a portion of the proceeds from THE MINE to the Oregon Chapter! Montana has banned cyanide heap leach mines. What is the future for such mines in Oregon? With gold over $1,000 per ounce, it’s anyone’s guess.
Ryan Evans doesn’t know it yet, but he’s in serious trouble. High in Oregon’s Wallowa Mountains, an open-pit cyanide leach mine is churning out gold by the ton, plus arsenic, cyanide, and a list of heavy metals. A biologist working for Oregon’s DEQ, Ryan is shocked when DEQ approves the mine’s expansion from 1,800 acres to over 10 square miles. Against his wife’s advice, Ryan investigates. His digging reveals deep corruption, fraud, and the likely murder of a DEQ investigator. But his tenacity catches the attention of a whistle-blower, along with the company, which will do anything to silence them both. Sometimes youthful idealism can bring a deadly penalty.
In 1990, the Summitville Gold Mine in Colorado released a flood of cyanide and heavy metals into the Alamosa River, decimating 17 miles of the river. The company, Galactic Resources, quickly filed for bankruptcy and abandoned the site. The mine soon became an EPA Superfund Site and to date, the EPA has spent over $200,000,000 for ongoing cleanup and recovery—arguably the most expensive EPA cleanup on record.
Also in 1990, the Brewer Gold Mine, near Jefferson, South Carolina, spilled over ten million gallons of solution containing cyanide and a long list of heavy metals. The spill killed over 11,000 fish and decimated 50 miles of the Lynches River. The Brewer Company later abandoned the site and the mine is now a Federal Superfund Site. Taxpayers will be paying many millions of dollars for cleanup into perpetuity.
While fiction, THE MINE is based on Colorado’s Summitville Mine disaster, Europe’s mammoth Aurul Mine catastrophe (labeled “the worst disaster since Chernobyl”) and the coming debacle: Alaska’s 20-square mile Pebble Mine.