Tricky things are happening at Kaiser’s abandoned mine at Eagle Mountain at the edge of the Joshua Tree National Monument.. The mining company is still hard at work after their initial plans to serve as a dumpsite for Los Angeles trash was shut down by the US Supreme Court. The trick is in the form of Senate Bill 108 which will keep the mine open and out of public hands.
“It looks like the mine is to be used for gravel, but we don’t really know what’s in those trucks,” said Donna Charpied, Executive Director of the Desert Protection Society.
“SB 108 is an end-run around the law,” Charpied said. “For the last 8 months we’ve been working to get the land back into the hands of the National Park, standing toe to toe with one of the largest corporations in America. Although there’s been sporadic mining up there for years, the actual mining permits were given-up by Kaiser in their plans to make the mine a dump. We need to help to win this one like we one the last one. Right is right.”
The mine has always been owned by Kaiser. A separate company, Mine Reclamation Corporation, was formed just to get the dump permit, according to Charpied. The city manager for Desert Hot Springs, Rick Daniels, was the President of MRC who came to the Coachella Valley along with the plan to haul LA trash by train to dump in the abandoned mine on land immediately adjacent to the national park.
“It’s always been Kaiser’s plan to make it a dump,” Charpied said, “That’s the only reason they got out of bankruptcy. They abandoned the mine and as per the agreement it should go back to the public.”
The1952 agreement that gave Kaiser the land for free was conditional that if Kaiser discontinued mining operations for seven years the land would revert back to public ownership. Although technically Kaiser hasn’t mined Eagle Mountain since 1983, at present, without mining permits, Kaiser is doing gravel mining in what appears to be a token measure to circumvent what is true and right.
“When Kaiser went bankrupt they said in pleadings to the court they would never mine again,” said Larry Charpied, “So we believe they have defrauded the bankruptcy court by stating they have never stopped mining. You can’t have it both ways.”
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