Everyone's favorite company finds yet another environmental resource to mismanage: In order to make its infamous herbicide Roundup, Monsanto needs phosphate, a mineral that happens to be prevalent in Southeastern Idaho thanks to a warm sea that existed there 240 million years ago. Three of the company's phosphate mines have been declared federal Superfund sites, while the fourth is currently in violation of the Clean Water Act. EPA officials say the mines are leaking selenium, cadmium, nickel and zinc into rivers that flow to the Grand Tetons and Yellowstone National Park. Mine disasters wrought by fellow fertilizer companies J.R. Simplot and Agrium killed hundreds of grazing Idaho sheep in the 1990s and poisoned a river to such an extent that all aquatic life was killed, according to state wildlife officials.
But Monsanto says the torrid past of its older mines shouldn't prevent it from opening a new mine in the same area, since its current mines are tapped. The company swears that a liner and container ponds will keep contaminated water out of the rivers. It's even hired Cecil Andrus, President Carter's environmentally-minded interior secretary, to do PR. [We wonder how the guy sleeps at night.] Local residents are split over the issue -- the mines support 60 to 70 percent of them. To phosphate, or not to phosphate? (AP via WHEC)