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Olympic Medals Contain Metals from Mines Said to Cause Life-Threatening Pollution
Posted By Charley Cameron On April 20, 2012 @ 2:00 pm In environmental destruction,News | No Comments
The 2012 London Olympics are just a few short months away, and being no stranger to controversy, it is already facing criticism  over the sourcing of metals for its iconic medals. With the slogan “Don’t let Rio Tinto tarnish the Olympic Games,” protesters and union representatives at the annual meeting of the London-based sponsor claimed that metal giant creates “life-threatening” air and water pollution  with their mining endeavors around the globe. Protestors also accused the company of mistreating workers, driving pay below a living-wage.
The Guardian reports  that Rio Tinto  is providing eight tonnes of gold, silver and bronze from mines in Utah and Mongolia  to make the 4,700 medals that will be used for the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games. Metal mining  is widely known to have a significant environmental impact, with high emissions and risks of toxins seeping into groundwater. Occupational Knowledge  (who were not involved in the protests) cite that global releases of lead  from the smelting and refining of nonferrous metals — the kinds typically used in Olympic medals — total over 28,000 metric tons per year .
Greenwash Gold , founded by Meredith Alexander , the former commissioner of the London 2012  sustainability campaign, lists a litany of abuses committed by Rio Tinto and highlights the impact  of their Utah operations. “Bingham Canyon… contributes to hundreds of premature deaths each year in the Salt Lake City area.” With plans to expand in the area and with the Oyu Tolgoi mine, Greenwash Gold believes that the “mine will use enormous quantities of water in a desert region,” adding that campaigners in Utah accuse Rio Tinto of poor planning and a lack of transparency.
Union representatives are also protesting Rio Tinto. Canada’s United Steelworkers union reportedly wants to see Rio Tinto dropped  as an Olympic sponsor due to their lockout of 800 workers at the Quebec Aluminium project, where seasoned workers were replaced by half-price contractors. Campaign conveyer Joe Drexler told the AFP “The Olympics are supposed to promote the idea of fair play and the idea of solidarity,” as Real Valiquette, spokesman for the locked out miners added “You cannot be a company that sponsors Olympic medals and do this to people.”
Lead image (cc) p_a_h  on Flickr
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 criticism: http://www.guardian.co.uk/business/2012/apr/19/olympic-medal-pollution-protesters-rio-tinto
 water pollution: http://inhabitat.com/greenpeace-links-nike-and-adidas-to-toxic-river-polluters-in-china/
 Image: http://inhabitat.com/olympic-medals-contain-metals-from-mines-said-to-cause-life-threatening-pollution/london-olympic-medal-metal-manufacturer-rio-tinto-accused-of-pollution-ill-treatment-2/
 Spmusick: http://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?title=User:Spmusick&action=edit&redlink=1
 Rio Tinto: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rio_Tinto_Group
 Mongolia: http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/04/19/riotinto-idUSL3E8FJ1WS20120419
 Metal mining: http://inhabitat.com/cadmium-spill-in-chinas-liu-river-threatens-to-contaminate-water-supply-for-3-million-people/
 Occupational Knowledge: http://www.okinternational.org/about-us/Overview
 lead: http://inhabitat.com/epa-announces-online-tool-for-tracking-large-stationary-polluters-power-plants-lead-the-pack/
 28,000 metric tons per year: http://www.okinternational.org/mining#note1
 Greenwash Gold: http://www.greenwashgold.org/
 Meredith Alexander: http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2012/jan/26/why-meredith-alexander-resigned-bhopal-olympic
 London 2012: http://www.london2012.com/sustainability
 highlights the impact: http://www.greenwashgold.org/index.php/rio-tinto
 reportedly wants to see Rio Tinto dropped: http://www.google.com/hostednews/afp/article/ALeqM5h50E7gTZixrOJoDJbbfV_FPO7jUw?docId=CNG.c48edd1d1dea9c6d92f8c17aefcd2f24.6c1
 p_a_h: http://www.flickr.com/photos/pahudson/7046282179/sizes/l/in/photostream/
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