Dear Virginia Department of Energy,
My name is Abbie Zuravsky, and I am commenting on the current conditions our environment faces today from the effects of our gold mines. An article from the Bay Journal recently conducted a study on the land around the Rapidan River in Orange County, Virginia. In many places, such as Orange County, traditional and small-scale gold mining uses mercury in a process known as amalgamation. For those that do not know, amalgamation is a method used to bind gold nuggets together using mercury. The mercury is then burned off in an industrial boiler, causing some particles to be released into the air and water. If ingested, mercury is toxic to humans. If one is to consume a small amount of mercury every day, it could build up in your body until it causes headaches, tremors, and even kidney damage. The term "Mad Hatter" was coined in the 18th century to describe the insane-like symptoms caused by mercury poisoning in many men who worked in the hat industry.
There have been no indications of any type of clean-up in the past 30 years. In 1988 there were talks of resuming mining operations but they never went into effect. Even then, streams around the river were found to have mercury tailings in the riverbed. That was proven to be from a previous mining operation; but in 2010, Mercury in fish tissue was found in a nearly 10-mile stretch of the River, which declared that stretch impaired- meaning the water quality is not safe. This is an issue that may turn up again so I propose the Rapidan river should be routinely tested for any carcinogens. I'm glad to know there is an effort to solve these problems left by the mines and can't wait for the action to be taken.