Tuesday evening, the Department of Environmental Quality had a meeting regarding Rio Tintoâ??s Eagle Mine air quality permits. Residents at the meeting shared concerns about what affect emissions could have on their health and the environment.
The DEQ responded that the purpose of these permits is to protect the surrounding environment and communities from any harm.
"We evaluate toxic emissions," explained Air Quality Divisions Chief, Vinson Hellwig.
Hellwig says that DEQ staff thoroughly study the "depositions of soil" to "look at what would impact humans or wildlife."
If the air quality permit is approved, more tests will be done once the mine is operational to ensure it is still meeting emissions regulations.
"Operations are set to start late 2014 at which time the DEQ would monitor our stack emissions 120 days from peak operations," said Rio Tintoâ??s Communications Advisor Dan Blondeau.
If all goes well, the DEQ will conduct periodic inspections to make sure they keep up with compliance.
Since 2007, Rio Tinto reported they made several modifications to the mine reducing their emissions.
"Safety for the environment and people are the top of our minds everyday," Blondeau said. "That's why we continue to review where we can find ways to improve our operations."
The DEQ will take the comments from Tuesday's hearing and decide whether or not to approve the permits within two or three weeks.