Hundreds attend second Polymet meeting

By KBJR News 1

January 22, 2014 Updated Jan 23, 2014 at 1:17 AM CDT

Aurora, MN (NNCNOW.com) - The second of three public meetings on a proposed copper-nickel mine on the Iron Range is in the books.

Wednesday's meeting was held at Mesabi East High School, only about ten miles from the proposed mine site.

The public meetings will gather input on the supplemental draft of the project's environmental impact statement (SDEIS).

It's an environmental review that must be deemed adequate by the DNR before the project can move forward, but before that happens the DNR must review all comments given by the public.

"The values used in the modeling are significantly at odds with the latest data from stream flows," said Paul Schurke of Ely during the public comment portion of Wednesday's meeting.

"I've reviewed the SDEIS and I believe it's fully formed and well defines the current and proposed developments," said Al Rudeck, a Polymet supporter.

The issue has long been controversial. Polymet says its copper-nickel mine would provide the area with hundreds of jobs, but those opposing the mine say the harm it would cause the environment would be too great.

"Who can ever figure out what the cost of the clean up would be for 500 years? Who would pay this?" asked Susan Schurke of Ely during the meeting.

"It [the SDEIS] says that this project is ready for permitting. That's what I saw out of it," said St. Louis County Commissioner Mike Forsman.

The DNR estimates that 600 to 700 people attended the meeting Wednesday.

The final public comment meeting will be held Tuesday, January 28, at the St. Paul RiverCentre. The open house will begin at 5 p.m., with the formal presentation and public comment period running from 6:45 - 10 p.m.

Comments may be submitted until March 13, 2014. The DNR says it will take them months to review all the comments submitted during the public comment period.

The first meeting on the SDEIS held last week at the DECC in Duluth drew more than 1,000 people.

Written by Jennifer Austin