Are London Olympics' Medals Tarnished by Utah Air Pollution?

kennecott mine photoPhil Scoville/CC BY 2.0

This year's Olympics in London are being billed as the greenest games ever, but Al Jazeera reports that there are some serious questions about the sourcing of the metals that will make up all but a tiny fraction of those which go into the gold, silver and bronze medals awarded this summer.

Briefly, 99% of the metal used this year comes from Rio Tinto's Kennecott Mine in Utah (that's it, above). A huge mine, alone producing 25% of all the copper in the US, as well as gold, silver and molybdenum, it's the largest polluter in the Salt Lake City basin.

Right now Rio Tinto is in court, accused of being in violation of the Clean Air Act for the past five years.

Read the Al Jazeera piece for more details, but as you might imagine, Rio Tinto essentially says 'nothing to see here, move along' and the organizing committee for the London games says, "There is nothing to investigate. We are completely satisfied with Rio Tinto."

If the accusations are found to be valid, it'd certainly be more than a full point deduction for the London games' green credentials.

(Sorry for the groaner of a reference, but I couldn't resist...)

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Tags: Greenwashing | Mining


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