Response to Mr. Weins…

Dear Editor,

The author of the second article on page 7 (Herb Weins, Reader 12-21-17 issue) makes numerous irrational statements and comparisons.

1: “We have been exporting high-quality blue collar jobs out of the country for decades.”

How does a smelter job qualify as a high-quality blue collar job, given the extreme working conditions and high turnover rate?

2: He makes an equivalence between the sight of a housing development and the sight of a smelter development.

3: He trivializes the threat of silicosis, not taking into account the unaccountable percentage of microscopic crystalline silica that escapes from the baghouse and goes out the stack, which has been cited in various studies, and will tend to accumulate locally near at least one school I am familiar with.

4: The estimated 15,130 wood stoves do not generate their emissions from one central point, but are spread out fairly evenly across three counties. Their emissions are not aimed in concentration at a corridor that would appear to be predominantly toward the Sandpoint area.

5: The amount of sulfur dioxide that he states they produce, 65 tons, is less than one-tenth what HiTest says will be produced: 760 tons.

Here is my biggest problem with the HiTest scenario: It tends to precipitate up here much more than in Spokane, and when sulfur dioxide contacts water, it turns into sulfuric acid (also known as battery acid). The soil in this area is mostly sandy. The wells are shallow. Forests and fish don’t do well when the pH goes down. Much of the runoff will go into the Pend Oreille River.

In the garden, potatoes and azaleas and blueberries like lots of acidity, as do huckleberries, but most of the other plants will do poorly as a result. I do not consider this a suitable trade-off at all.

Tom Garrett

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