ARSENIC AND OLD MINES

AS MONTANANS BATTLE A NEW GOLD RUSH, CALIFORNIANS ARE DEALING WITH THE POISONOUS LEGACY OF THE PAST

In the historic gold-rush country of Northern California, Lovetta Pyle has struck a vein of woe. Shortly after moving to the town of Sutter Creek, she learned that the gray "sand" that whole neighborhoods sit on is actually mine tailings, the grit left over after gold has been extracted from the ground. In those tailings is a toxic byproduct of the mining process: arsenic, in concentrations up to 50 times higher than the level deemed safe by the government. Now Pyle finds that her house is virtually worthless; no one will buy it, and no bank will write a mortgage. "I...

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