Standing above the angle. Bright Damn A army corps US Army Corps of Engineers Dam on the main stem of the river. Where is that though in Nevada county? We're about halfway between Tahoe. And Sacramento. A little north of that would not actually in Nevada. Nope we're in the state of California and we are standing right between Nevada County and Yuba County and we're standing on the beautiful Yuba River which flows down to the feather. And then the Sacramento from there down into the San Francisco Bay in the ocean. So you were a county board of Supervisors member when you first came here. Tell us about your first experience with this. Damn down a few different times over my life had been here my whole life. It was built and commissioned in nineteen forty seven by the Army Corps of Engineers so that people could resume hydraulic mining blocks hundreds of miles of potential fish passage for fish. Come from the ocean and go up into the high sierra to lay their eggs so when I first came to the damn understanding that the state of California had targeted this spot em federal government as maybe the best place to restore passage at the very first meeting we went to the. Us Geological Survey stood up and said you can't do anything to that. Damn until you look at the material behind it is holding back a whole bunch of mercury and that was the very first time I had ever heard anything about mercury and the state of California and its role in the goal rush. Or how long have you lived in this part of the world? My family came to California as part of the Gold Rush. We were quakers. Escaping the east coast. Ten violent religious oppression moved out to become farmers I was raised in Concord California on that form and in one thousand nine hundred five. I married a farmer and we moved to Nevada county beautiful organic farm in a place called Penn Valley. Tell us about this county and just its history and the gold rush because it is a lot of history here. Nevada county was ground zero of the California Gold Rush. Far More gold was taken out of this county and specifically this river that we're standing above than any other place in the state of California. It's where the very destructive technique called hydraulic mining which is using power water monitors to to scrub mountainside. Looking for gold is where that was invented. They started to dam the rivers and convey that water over to these huge hydraulic mining activities. Which were recovering thousands of of gold but millions of tons of sediment not material here from Nevada county rolled down the river and kept flooding the Sacramento Valley and eventually the farmers downstream who are really tired of having their houses filled with all this debris sued and stopped the activity known as hydraulic mining. Was the connection between Mercury and gold. Tell us how that process works. Everybody came to understand that the very dramatic impact of hydraulic mining because it was blowing these huge amounts of sediment down the river. But people didn't understand. Was that before they use. Those hydraulic monitors. They would treat the cliffs with Mercury Mercury on the cliff. Pound the cliffs with water the water to wash down into sluices and in those sluice boxes were also filled with mercury. Why did they use mercury keep? Mercury helped enhance called processing. It has a unique ability to amalgamate or hold the gold. So little tiny flecks of gold. That might be smaller than an eyelash would fall into the pan. But they're just wash out unless they were captured by mercury. Mercury would grab the gold. Make it heavy fall to the bottom of the sluice. When they turn the water off. Miners would come through and suck that mercury out of the bottom of the sluice they would take the mercury put it in a hot place they would call retort it like think of a hot iron frying pan and the mercury sort of melting off the top or or training into gas off the top and at the bottom of your pan. You'd have sparkling gold. The problem is curious. Mercury is a very dangerous neuro toxin. And it's dangerous in a variety of ways so badly that the United Nations World Health Organization Amnesty of California have both named it. The top bioaccumulative toxic material of concern. Mercury is a neuro toxin. It affects the developmental human being so our ability to deform our nerves are heart or lungs. Our brains it creates Serious birth defects and people have focused on that for many many years but as research has been done we learn that it continues to damage us as adults. It seems to be causing problems with our hearts with our lungs and with our various different organs which accumulate mercury. So it's a known neuro toxin and that's strike one against it strike to is it bioaccumulates in our body. It doesn't really easily leave our bodies many of the things we take in. Let's take alcohol. You drink it and two days later. It's all out of your body not so with Mercury it stores itself in your body and builds up over time strike. Three is that this material does. What's called bio magnifies in the environment? So the most dangerous place for a piece of mercury to be is in water particularly in warm water. Mercury is taken up by the little bugs at the bottom of the food chain. They eat a little bit of it. It transfers up to the bigger bugs and then the bigger bugs and then the fish and then the humans or as we watch here today. The waterbirds that are flying around might pick up. Officiant eat it. They are eating a highly toxic potent load of mercury so much so that the lake. We're looking here like Anglo. Bright has fish advisories on it that advice that a woman of childbearing age eat not a single bass out of this lake fish mornings. I run along this Anchorman River. There will along the Sacramento. And then you go down to San Francisco Bay. The same warnings that so it's in fact the entire ecosystem. The mercury that is in the Delta is entirely from these legacy minds in the areas. We are the gold mines and sadly for California. We had a unique geology which led us have mercury in our state as well. The coastal range has the mercury minds. Whether it's the ones down in San Jose or the ones Tamales Bay or up over on the clear lake there are serious old legacy mercury minds which are contaminating the coastal range and the tributaries that drain from there into the bay or into the ocean where we are everywhere. There was gold mining. They use this mercury not only for the the hydraulic mining but also for the hard rock mines which dominated the landscapes for one hundred years and all of those continue to leak mercury into the state of California water bodies every time it rains

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