"BOISE -- Eighteen cattle likely died of selenium poisoning near a southeastern Idaho phosphate mine, the latest livestock deaths in a region rich in phosphates where a legacy of pollution has killed horses and hundreds of sheep since the 1990s.
The cattle died around Aug. 5 near the defunct Lanes Creek Mine. Fertilizer-maker J.R. Simplot Co. controls the mineral rights there but says it has never actively mined the site.
The dead cattle's livers showed high levels of selenium, a naturally occurring mineral unearthed with phosphate ore that contaminates groundwater and plants near mines if it's not properly contained. Their deaths come as J.R. Simplot and Monsanto Co., which makes Roundup herbicide from phosphate mined nearby, are seeking to dig new mines and public scrutiny is focused on the region."
John Miller reports for the Associated Press August 15, 2009.