Two-Headed Mutant Trout Are Not Enough to Stop Selenium Pollution

Illustration for article titled Two-Headed Mutant Trout Are Not Enough to Stop Selenium Pollution

1. Mining company commissions "scientific study" about selenium pollution in Idaho rivers. 2. "Scientific study" finds plenty of trout with two heads and numerous deformities. 3. "Scientific study" concludes that more selenium pollution should be allowed. 4. Profit.


It seems like a Simpsons' episode, but that's what just has happened with a mining corporation called J. R. Simplot Company. They commissioned the study—apparently to Krusty the Clown and Dr. Nick Riviera—to argue to the EPA that the company should be allowed to keep polluting the creeks and even increase selenium levels. At the end of the study, pictures of the mutant trout were included.

Initially, the EPA responded positively to a first draft of the study. But now several experts and other agencies are trying to stop this nonsense. They argue that the study's methodology is flawed and its conclusions are wrong.

All this is happening while J. R. Simplot Company has not cleaned their previous mess yet. From the New York Times' article:

In 2003, Simplot's management agreed to clean up the site under the Superfund law, which gave it temporary shelter from litigation and federal fines [...] the company has spent about $3.5 million to restore the area. But there is still more to do. Simplot acknowledges, for example, that the nearby waterway of Hoopes Springs still measures 70 parts per billion of selenium, 14 times the federal limit.

And yet, they now want to increase the level of selenium pollution.

The very negative effects of selenium—a toxic metal byproduct of mining, burning coal and farming—in animals and humans have been well documented for decades.


Call me a crazy Euro-tree-hugging-hippie-commie if you have to, but I hope this whole thing ends into a movie in which Sally Field and Julia Roberts are a team of amateur lawyers who sink the J. R. Simplot Company—a perfect name for the evil cover corporation in a James Bond clone B-movie—into the fucking ground.

One based in true events. [NYT]



My multi-vitamin has selenium in it. Should I be worried? Will I end up like the "trouts"?