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Asbestos found at northwoods mining site

UNDATED (WSAU-Wheeler News)   Asbestos has been found in a rock sample at the proposed Gogebic Taconite iron ore mine -- and one opposing group says the project should be tabled because of it. The D-N-R said yesterday that mineral fibers of the cancer-causing asbestos were confirmed by the state's Geological and Natural History Survey. That's after a D-N-R geologist suspected the carcinogen during a visit to the proposed mine in Ashland and Iron counties this spring.

Gogebic Taconite has been conducting exploratory work at the site of the four-mile-long mine that could cost up to $1.5-billion.

Members of the Penokee Hills Education Project inspected wetlands yesterday and later said the mine should be put off because of the asbestos that was found. The D-N-R says the extent of the asbestos is not known yet. State hydro-geologist Larry Lynch says that if Gogebic Taconite applies for the mine, it would have to determine the amounts of the chemical, and explain how it would control the spread of airborne emissions.

The company said earlier it did not believe asbestos was at the site, based on exploratory work done by U-S Steel several decades ago. Gogebic spokesman Bob Seitz says his company will conduct its own studies to determine the extent of the asbestos.