Selenium is a threat and efforts to mitigate it are to be applauded
To the editor:
I have caught westslope cutthroat trout in the Elk River with gill plate damage from excessive selenium exposure. The explanation for the defects in these fish was first given to me at one of the fishing shops in Fernie. They described what the damage looked like and how selenium caused it. They also asked me, as I fish there often, to document when and where I caught other cutthroats with the same damage.
They were concerned, you see, how far down the Elk River the effects of selenium had spread. We have caught cutthroat trout with compromised gill plates as far downstream as just above the Elko Dam (located about twelve miles from where the Elk River empties into Koocanusa Reservoir).
There is a selenium concern.
The closed mindedness of State Rep. Steve Gunderson (R-Libby) and the back peddling by state Sen. Mike Cuffe (R-Eureka) on this issue are troubling. The efforts to work with the Provincial Government of British Columbia and the Teck Mine by the Montana Department of Environmental Quality are worthy. It is not "a political push to create the most restrictive standard in the world.” The actions agreed upon are, in fact, an attempt to be proactive instead of reactive.
The Teck Mine has made attempts to mitigate the selenium deposits at their expense. They realize there needs to be proactive efforts to keep it all from getting worse.
We need clean water. We need energy sources. We need jobs. The efforts by the parties involved to stop this before it goes too far are commendable.