Maine’s Statute & It’s Draft Implementing Rules Score Poorly on Catastrophic Failure Risk Assessment

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE   September 14, 2016  1333 EST   Contact 207 367 5145



Lindsay Newland Bowker, CPCU ARM, Environmental Risk Manager

Risk of Catastrophic Failure analysis of Maine’s Mining Statute ( Pl 2011 c.653) and its now under review draft rule concludes that Maine’s statute itself is a potential root cause of such failure as has been the case in many of history’s most dramatic and costly failures including Mt Polley and Samarco, both modern mines and both among in history’s top 10 in terms of consequence and scale of failure. Maine’s statute scored 43 out of a maximum “worst case” score of 50 and is classified as “High Risk”, against 5 key criteria focused on most commonly found root causes of catastrophic failure.

Although the poorly framed, poorly informed Maine statute is among the worst among post 1990 new laws and overhauls it nevertheless contained a few very common mandates including “technical and financial capacity of the applicant” and a mandate for the use of best proven technology . Otherwise it is vague on mandates on policy, but with no changes in statute at all it would be possible to write a rule substantially reducing risk of catastrophic failure. This risk assessment analysis concludes that a score of 16 out of a possible best case score of 10 can be attained within the existing statute despite its many flaws, gaps, internal inconsistencies and contradictions through wiser better informed rules alone. .

The statute’s implementing rule drafted by the Department of Environmental  Protection (DEP) and accepted for review by Maine’s unique Citizen Panel (Board of Environmental Protection,(BEP)) scored lower than the statute itself at 44 out of a “worst case”  score of 50 because it constructively nullified the key mandates of the statute by not developing them. Its low score was otherwise attributable to  dropping better and more professional language in the 1991 draft rule that is not in any conflict with statute and not including any useable language that would be effective in preventing or reducing the risk of catastrophic non remediable failure.

Michigans new rule for non ferrous metals, well known to Maine’s DEP and the legislative committee of jurisdiction ( JSCENR)  and developed specifically for sulphides, the  kind of high risk metallic mineralization Maine has, contains provisions  addressing may of the root causes of catastrophic failure scores 32 out of  a worst case score of 50.

In Maines latest draft rules, that difference between what is possible and its best possible outcome score of 16 and the score of 44 is a void in which the seeds of catastrophic failure can germinate, incubate and mature to a manmade catastrophic failure. Of the 33 million tons of metallically mineralized rock at the state’s largest metallic deposit, Bald Mountain, 22 million tonnes will become toxic high arsenic tailings with high ARD potential and another 11 million tonnes of wastes posing high level environmental security risks so there is significant  potential for a man made catastrophic failure at Bald Mountain , should any mining at all ever become economically viable, under the present statute as “risk elevated” by DEP’s draft rule.

A tailings facility failure would travel many kilometers not thousands of feet and result in a complete non remediabe loss of downstream lands ponds, streams and brooks and all terrestal and marine habitat .Tailings can never become soils capable of supporting and sustaining any kind of plant life long term as a recent evaluation of the Los Frailles failure in Spain has shown . At a previously undocumented 1937 failure in Mexico which we discovered and have added to our global failures database 1906-2016, to this day no sustained growth has occurred on the lands despoiled by the tailings flow 80 years ago.

Michigan’s statutes, indeed most presently governing statutes world wide including New Mexico’s relatively new statute  would score not much better than Maine’s.  Improvements in the legal framework for mining have come mainly through  rules.  West Australia for instance working form a very primitive pre modern legal framework has developed one of the wisest and most comprehensive rules in the world.

The full report  will be submitted as  Bowker Associates testimony on the draft rule and published as a case study further developing and now applying our work with eminent Geophysicist on the relationship between mining economics environmental risk and public liability.



About lindsaynewlandbowker

Bowker Associates, Science & Research In The Public Interest, is an independent non profit providing self initiated pro bono analysis on key issues with a potential for massive adverse environmental impact . Bowker Associates has been an internationally recognized and cited voice in analysis of the Samarco failure, its consequence, and the possibilties for recovery. In 2017 we partnered with Daveid M. Chambers, a world leader in responsible mining, in our third joint work on the economics of tailings failures. Bowker, L.N.; Chambers, D.M. In the Dark Shadow of the Supercycle Tailings Failure Risk & Public Liability Reach All Time Highs. Environments 2017, 4, 75. A peer reviewed journal published investigation of the cowboy economics of the supercycle and the resulting escalation on the number and magnitude of catastrophic failures. In 2016 we parnered with Dave Chambers in our 2nd joint work together looking at root causes of failures at a conference . Bowker, L.N.; Chambers, D.M. Root Causes of Tailings Management Failures: The Severity of Consequence of Failures Attributed to Overtopping 1915–2015. In Proceedings of the Protections 2016, Fort Collins, CO, USA, 14 June 2016. [Google Scholar] In 2015 Bowker Associates collaborated with geophysicist David M. Chambers to recompile global authoritative accounts of significant TSF failures in recorded history and to analyze these data in the context of global mining economics 1910-2010 ( Risk, Economics and Public Liability of TSF Failures, Bowker/Chambers July 2015) The third annual update of this globally referenced and used compilation was just released at Researchgate. ( In 2014 Bowker Associates commissioned globally respected geophysicist and hydrogeologist Dr. David Chambers to undertake two technical works: (1) development of technical go no go criteria for vetting mine applications tp:// and (2) a case study of Maine's Bald Mountain, an un mined low grade high risk VMS deposit demonstrating the efficacy and accuracy of two risk assessment tools in vetting mine proposals In Maine, Bowker Associates has deeply engaged and been a public voice in the Searsport DCP LPG Tank, The Cianbro proposal for a Private East West Toll Road, JD Irvings rolling pipeline of Bakken crude to its plant in St. John and review of Phase II plans at The Callahan Superfund site in Brooksville, Maine, and Maine's revisitation of mining in statute and regulation... Our only “client”: is always “the pubic interest”. Our model is to focus on only one or two issues at a time so that we have a substantive command of the relevant field as our foundation for ongoing engagement. Our core work is in envirommental risk management, science and technology as well as bringing any available “best practices” models to the fore. The legal and regulatory history/best models are also a major thrust of our work in building and evaluating public policy. Director/Principal Lindsay Newland Bowker, CPCU, ARM is a recognized expert in Environmental Risk Management., Heavy Construction Risk Management and Marine and Transit Risks and has more than 3 decades of engagement in buiding public policy. Appointed by Governor Mario Cuomo to New York State Banking Board (served 1986-1996); President New York Chapter Chartered Property and Casualty Insurers; Environmental Committee, Risk and Insurance Management Society; Director, Convenor/Co-Chair Bermuda Market Briefing "From Captive to Cats" Hamilton Bermuda. Published Articles of Significance The Risk Economics and Public Liability of Tailings Facility Failures, co-authored with David M. Chambers, July 2015 Beyond. Polarization: Superfund Reform in Perspective, Risk & Insurance Managing Risk For Loss Prevention & Cost Control (Jan. 24, 1997). Lead Hazards and Abatement Technologies in Construction: A Risk Management Approach CPCU Journal 1997 Employee Leasing: Liability in Limbo Risk Management June 1 1997 Environmental Audit Privilege and the Public interest Risk & Insurance Managing Risk For Loss Prevention & Cost Control, April 1997 Asbestos:Holes In Abatement Policies Need To Be Plugged, Lloyd’s Environmental Risk International, May 1993 Editor Published Letters Evironmental Risk Management Beware of Facile Policies Like Fetal Protection Business Insurance 1995(?) High Court Review May Increase Sale of Bank Annuities Business Insurances August 8, 1995 Professional Profiles Protecting the Big Apple’s Core Managing Risk For Loss Prevention & Control December 1996 Major Career Highlights First rigorous analysis showing Relationship Between declining ore grades and TSF Failures of increasing consequence ( July 2015) FIrst Documentation that Gentrification Has Same Impacts as Unassisted Displacement from Urban Renewal Sites Direted Court Ordered EIS of FHA Mortgage Scandal Created Nation's First Homeownership Program for Low Income People (SHIP) Created Earliest Geographic Information Systems Using Defense Technology Developed By IBM Designed and Conducted Parallel Census Count to Show Systematic undercount in minority neighborhoods Documented Bias in ISO Territory Rating Plans for Private Passenger Auto Insurance Using ISO's own Rating Techniques Demonstrated Inherent Bias in Mortgage Policies of Banks With Inner City Branches Demonstrated that NY Telephones Plan for Area Code Split To accommodate anticipated cell phone demand was not efficient and would exhaust in 5 years ( which it did) Undertook First Systematic Evaluation of Child Protective Services Caseload Using Multi Variate Analyic Techniques Developed Child Protective Caseload Management and Tracking System (CANTS) and directed implementation in 4 client states including Illinois, Florida and New York Created and Ran Office of Risk Management for NYC DEP the Nations largest Water & Sewer Authority . Designed, Created and Administered Nation's First Owner Controlled Insurance Program (OCIP)for High Risk Tunneling Education Masters NYU Graduate School of Public Administration BSC New School For Social Research Maine Public Schools Deering High School
This entry was posted in Analysis TSF Failures, Bald Mountain Aroostook Maine, BEP, Bowker Associates Science & Research In The Public Interest, Catastrophic Tailings Failures, Causes Of Catastrophic Tailings Dam Failures, Center For Science In Public Participation, CSP2, CU-Arsenic Standards For Concentrates, David M. Chambers, Environmental Risk Management, Global Capital Squeeze In Mining, History of Mining In Maine, Imperial Metals, lacustrine mine waste disposal, Maine Mining Law, Maine Mining Regulations, Maine Mining Rules, Maine Mining Statute, Metallic Mining Risk Management, Mine Feasibility, Mine Risk Management, Mining Economics, mining environmental risk management, Mining Financial Feasibility, Mining In Maine, Mining Regulation, Mining Risk Management, Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

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