No Suction Dredging This Summer

A San Bernardino County Superior Court judge ruled yesterday against an attempt by the mining community to start suction dredge mining in California waterways this summer.

Suction dredge miners had asked the court to prevent the California Department of Fish and Wildlife from enforcing the current moratorium on the destructive practice, which has been in place since 2009.

The moratorium is designed to prevent mercury pollution and damage to wildlife, waterways and cultural resources caused by suction dredge mining until safer rules are adopted.

Californians can breathe a sign of relief that our rivers and wildlife will be protected this summer from the toxic plumes of mercury that suction dredge mining releases,” said Jonathan Evans, Environmental Health legal director at the Center for Biological Diversity.

In this time of devastating drought, our water supplies are crucial to California’s well-being. I really hope the legislature steps in to clarify the need to protect our dwindling water supplies from mining pollution.”

Suction dredge mining uses machines to vacuum up gravel and sand from streams and river bottoms in search of gold. California law prohibits in-stream suction dredge mining until the state develops regulations that pay for the program and protect water quality, wildlife and cultural resources.

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife has not completed those regulations.