Troubles with the RO process that will be used by Polymet?

Average annual water required for mine operations has been estimated at275 gpm, or between 20-810 gpm for this report.   lf we were to accept these numbers, then uses could vary from as little as 10,512,000 gallons of water per year or as much as 425,736,000 gallons per year. Greater than 90% of this water would be captured and treated using reverse osmosis, a process that poses risks as outlined in 2006 by the World Health Organization’s report in Geneva, Nutrients in Drinking Water, Chapter 12.

According to studies done since the 1960’s when reverse osmosis filtration began, demineralized water has proved dangerous in many ways. lt will aggressively attack contacted materials by dissolving metals and some organic substances in pipes, storage tanks, hose lines and fittings. Because of this, it poses an increased risk of filtering toxic metals into the groundwater, wetlands and streams at the source and particularly downstream. Time would be an important factor in determining the extent of damage to various plants and animals in the watersheds. 

Without the protective or antitoxic protection of calcium and magnesium additional, increased risk of cardiovascular disease occurs in humans from drinking water treated by RO, and reserve minerals in the body are often depleted. This in time results in other adverse effects on animal and human organisms. 

Filters and membranes are subject to bacterial growths and would present their own problems.  Significant factors are:  toxins from the filters or membranes would be highly concentrated, and the problem of disposal would remain. Has the SDEIS calculated the very real danger of RO processed waters on plant and animal organisms as well as the disposal of these concentrated toxins?


2 Comments to “Troubles with the RO process that will be used by Polymet?”

  1. I appreciate your comment and wonder if you have any links to scientific studies that prove your points, concerning rain water, bacterial growth, demineralized water not being issues long term?
    In a climate of global warming and people in need of clean, safe water, the merits of filtration can be noticeable in areas with no potable water, and so I understand the need to defend any process that might provide a solution; but we rarely, in human history as a rule, drink water without some contact with earth, as from rivers and lakes, wells; and the benefits of natural water has yet to be fully understood as well. It has stood the test of time, though.
    Minnesota’s abundance of fresh, natural water, billions of years old, could benefit the entire planet, reserves that are separated by highly complex aquifers. Do we really want to demineralize these priceless reserves using RO and take our chances so that Polymet can mine copper? Hard water tastes different from distilled water, demineralized water, and not all of the ingredients in natural water of varying kinds, and benefits are known or understood entirely at this time.
    It is a fact, that water will be altered by RO and disposal of the toxins would still be a problem in a highly concentrated form, threatening the St Louis watershed and underground aquifers, possibly forever. In addition, the membranes used for RO would not last into perpetuity, would need backflushing and maintenance, will lose effectiveness over time, and have not been proven safe to human and animal organisms over hundreds of years.

  2. While there may be a problem with the waste water discharged from a reverse osmosis system, as it would be full of toxins, de-mineralized water is not an issue for humans. While there is the myth out there that reverse osmosis water will leach minerals from the body, this has been proven to be false and a myth brought forward by water filter companies who cannot compete with the water filtration capabilities of reverse osmosis. Have you ever heard of rain water being bad for the health? No, and this water has no minerals in it. But rain water isn’t a competitor or something the water filter companies can dispute against. And while bacterial growth can happen within a system, it is very unlikely, as bacteria forms in stagnant waters, not continual flowing waters in which these systems operate. Also, the bacteria could not make its way through the small pores of the membrane regardless.