LeCain addresses three types of techno-fixes in his argument: the transformational techno-fix, the relocational techno-fix, and the delaying techno-fix. In the case of industrial mining, “many apparent solutions to problems of air pollution simply involved moving pollutants from one environmental sink to another” (LeCain, Pg. 137). The two case studies involved in this essay, the Tennessee Copper Company/Ducktown and Deer Lodge Valley. In the case of the Tennessee Copper Company, the United States prevented Georgia from further smelting, but allowed if the state could remove the toxins from the air. Their solution, a sulfuric acid plant, effectively reduced the air pollution and allowed the smelters to continue working- a transformational and relocational techno-fix. LeCain argues that the excess product used in fertilizers were applied in excess, poisoning the environment. In Deer Lodge, pollution was curbed by installing an electrostatic precipitator- also a transformational and relocational techno-fix. They sold the captured arsenic as a pesticide, which increased arsenic concentration in the area. Deer lodge also employed a delaying techno-fix by returning arsenic underground.
Mining produces lethal waste. There is no way around it. However, we cannot stop mining we need the resourced mining produces. We could not have electricity without copper. Unless some wondrous new technology arises and replaces these materials, we are at a loss and must continue consuming these products. I agree that any way we have transformed the waste from mining and/or re-purposed it has resulted in detrimental consequences for the environment and the people, plants, and animals that inhabit it. As LeCain puts it, “in retrospect, the techno-fixes can be seen to have often disguised the full magnitude of the environmental problems and thus served to justify the continued operation of the smelter industry” (LeCain, Pg. 150). This brings us back to the unforeseen consequences discussion the semester begin with. The only thing we can continue to do is find solutions, or just more techno-fixes that may or may not have their own far-reaching consequences. Hindsight is 20-20. By looking at past mistakes, we are better prepared to tackle present and future problems.