September 10, 2008

Lawsuit Seeks to Block Mine Expansion

Environmental groups are suing to block a proposed expansion of a sand and gravel mine in Washington state they say could harm whales and chinook salmon.

Glacier Northwest is seeking to increase the amount of sand and gravel mining on Maury Island from 10,000 tons a year to 2 million tons, the Seattle Post-Intelligencer reported Wednesday.

The expansion plans call for construction of a pier and a conveyor, and would increase the amount of barge traffic in the Puget Sound, the newspaper said.

The lawsuit, filed Tuesday, is believed to be the first calling for increased orca protections since the sea mammals were listed as an endangered species three years ago. There is also a push to restore Puget Sound to better environmental health by 2020.

"This part of Maury Island has been proven time and time again to be recognized as one of our last best places," said Amy Carey, president of Preserve Our Islands, one of the groups filing suit.

"We're in a situation where we're spending millions of dollars correcting the mistakes we've already made" in the sound, she said. "This is a mistake waiting to happen."