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Ore spilled on the ground during the accident.

Sulfide Mining,Uncategorized

Eagle Mine Truck Accident on County Road 550

17 Dec , 2014  

Marquette, MI – In the early morning hours of Saturday December 13, 2014 a truck hauling nickel and copper ore from Eagle Mine facility on the Yellow Dog Plains left the roadway and overturned in a ditch. Thankfully, no one was injured, no other vehicles were involved in the accident, and Marquette area emergency response teams were quick to arrive on the scene. The truck was owned by MJ Van Damme Trucking but operating for Lundin Mining Company under contract.

Ore was spilled in the accident despite the initial claim made by the company that there was no leakage. The company later corrected the statement after photos were taken by YDWP that revealed ore had been spilled. According to the police report in The Mining Journal, this accident involved an evasive maneuver to avoid a deer and the operator was cited for driving over the speed limit. It took over 26 hours for the truck to be righted after leaving the road. Meanwhile, Big Bay citizens heading to Marquette were being turned around once they reached the site of the accident causing multiple hours of traffic delays.

Transportation accidents are inevitable, and the chance an accident will occur is high. Nine trucks are currently delivering 40 loads of ore per day (one load per truck) on a 24/7 basis on County Roads AAA, 510 and 550. By law, Eagle Mine should be operating according to a comprehensive transportation contingency plan that includes contingencies for emergency situations such as this. The complete contingency plan would address this scenario and other inevitable outcomes. It is required by the Michigan Non-ferrous Mining Law Part 632 and has not been enforced.

According to attorney Michelle Halley, “This accident demonstrates why it is important for the State of Michigan to require Lundin to assess the environmental impacts of all mining activities including hauling ore on the designated transportation route. That analysis is required under Part 632, but to this day the State has failed to apply or enforce it.”

In the current Eagle Mine Permit Application, sections 4.3.7, and cover the subject of ore transportation in a few broad paragraphs without providing much detail. The company states in this section that spills would be relatively easy to clean up and the speed of clean up would reduce the chance for Acid Rock Drainage. This situation highlights the need for a better plan, since the clean-up was neither easy nor fast. This topic has been brought up in court by co-petitioners in a case against the mining permit, which include: Yellow Dog Watershed Preserve, Keweenaw Bay Indian Community, National Wildlife Federation and the Huron Mountain Club.

County Road 595, had it been built, certainly would not make ore transportation any safer. Accidents related to wildlife and speed would still occur, and the remote location of the road would have made emergency response times much longer.

In light of recent events, we urge Lundin Mining Company improve their contingency plan to best serve the local community.

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4 Responses

  1. Joe Dirt says:

    Get you’re facts right first, I drive thru the accident scene a total of 4 times on Saturday, and was never turned around. Two times I was waived right thru, the other two times I only had wait A total of 20 minutes. And if people knew about the accident up in Big Bay or Marquette, they could have taken County Road 502 to County Road 510 to get to and from Big Bay….it’s not that much difference.

  2. Hi Joe Dirt,

    People did not know about the accident when they left Big Bay unless they called the police department. We have many first hand accounts of traffic delays from Big Bay area residents who missed work, did not receive needed medical attention, and/or were turned around. Yes, some were able to make it through, but many were not. Big Bay residents were contacting the state police, who was informing residents whether or not the road was open.

  3. John Doe says:

    I would like to see the proof that they don’t have an emergency plan for these types of events. This whole article looks to be opinion over fact. Has their paperwork been checked? Emergency vehicles and other crews were on site quickly. Sorry if they forgot the magic wand.

    Just because the truck remained in the ditch for an extended period doesn’t mean the clean up of ore wasn’t quick or easy.

    Are you sure acid rock drainage isn’t an issue till it’s being processed at Humboldt? What needs to happen for acid rock drainage to take place? Did this situation warrant the necessary elements to create the hazard that was worried about?

    I feel a lot of details are left out of this opinion piece.

  4. Long Walk says:

    Any truck driver worth a damn knows better than to try and avoid the wildlife, the damaged caused by hitting a deer is far less than what can happen trying to avoid it. Add in him speeding and we have great potential that he will be involved in another accident sometime soon. If we’re lucky he will be fired first because he’s now an economic liability.

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