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Posts Tagged ‘Open Pit Mining’

Wild Alaskan Sockeye Salmon

‘Pebble could pollute perfect, porous habitat’

ANCHORAGE DAILY NEWS COMPASS: Other points of view

By JACK STANFORD

Published: July 25th, 2010 06:19 PM

Executives with Pebble Limited Partnership and some of their high-profile supporters, like former House Speaker Gail Phillips, have recently made misleading statements about the location and potential impacts of the proposed Pebble Mine.

They stated in public forums that Pebble is not located in the headwaters of Bristol Bay and that it would only affect about two streams out of some 42 similarly-sized streams in the project area, thus creating the false impression that this enormous copper and gold mine would cause minimal harm to the habitat of Bristol Bay’s great salmon fishery. Nothing could be farther from the truth.

The argument that this giant mineral deposit is not in the headwaters of the Nushagak and the Kvichak Rivers relies on a dim notion that the headwaters is only the single stream in a watershed that is farthest from the ocean. Any thinking person knows that surface and ground waters flow downhill anywhere in a watershed, not just from the stream that’s farthest from the ocean. As someone who has taught river ecology for 40 years, I know that the headwaters are where small streams first start to flow throughout a watershed.

I began my career in 1967 on the shoreline of Alaska’s largest king salmon producing river, the Nushagak, near Ekwok. My job was to sit on a tower above the river and count the number and species of salmon swimming underneath to reach spawning grounds in the headwaters of the Nushagak. Sockeye, chum, chinook, pink and coho streamed by, sometimes faster than I could count them. Since then, I have worked in rivers around the world exploring how they create habitat for salmon and trout.

Bristol Bay is home to the world’s largest sockeye salmon run, and it’s a testament to the thoughtful management policies of the State of Alaska that it has remained so. The key to the high productivity of sockeye in Bristol Bay is the habitat, especially the abundance of clean lakes and the intimate connection between water flowing underground and at the surface. Bristol Bay is an inherently wet, porous place, where water moving between the ground and the surface provides the perfect place for salmon eggs to develop.

It is simply wishful thinking to assume that the Pebble prospect can be developed without long-term impacts on Bristol Bay salmon. Pebble would necessarily destroy salmon-bearing headwater streams outright and would very likely pollute many more. This has happened time and again with sulfide mines around the globe, and Pebble would be one of the largest and likely the most destructive headwaters removal mine ever conceived.

Any pollution from Pebble wouldn’t just affect salmon near the mine site; it would travel easily downstream, through surface and groundwater. In fact, the porous nature of the Bristol Bay watershed that makes it such a great producer of salmon also makes it especially vulnerable to the kind of pollution that is caused by copper sulfide mining.

In the end, a project like Pebble would put all of the salmon downstream from the site at risk; this means no less than all of the fish that return to and rear in the Nushugak, the Kvichak, Lake Iliamna and the vast majority of their tributaries. A mine of this magnitude is not just about the mine site and the pollution that could emanate from it, it’s also about the broader cumulative effects, whether it’s the haul roads that cross stream after stream and open up the entire area, leaks from the slurry pipelines or the multitude of mining claims whose owners stand ready to develop more mines if Pebble becomes a reality.

As an expert on rivers, I can say with authority that Bristol Bay is in nearly the same situation that faced the great salmon rivers in the Lower 48 before their salmon were lost to development, dams, pollution and other factors. The only real difference for Bristol Bay is that the decision can be informed by history.

On the other hand, wishfully thinking that you can have it all — a mining district and a thriving fishery — will take Bristol Bay down the same road as so many once-great salmon rivers.


Jack A. Stanford is a professor of ecology at the University of Montana.

Read more: http://www.adn.com/2010/07/25/1380983/pebble-could-pollute-perfect-porous.html#ixzz0uozjEvjj

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I realize ‘dumbification’ is not an actual word but what’s worse, an individual making up a word or a mining conglomerate’s unmitigated attempts at brainwashing Alaskans in their push to develop Pebble Mine.

The truth is slapping us in the face about Pebble, the Pebble Partnership, and Anglo American Mining. Do not minimize the recent violations from Anglo and the Pebble Partnership. The unauthorized use of water is a strong indicator of things to come.  

The actions of Pebble to ‘decide’ to not apply for permits in 2010 are now crystal clear. Their pre-emptive ‘decision’ is a carefully planned fabrication to dilute the news about the State of Alaska’s order to suspend Pebble’s permits for their water-use violations. This action by Pebble is a blatant attempt to obfuscate the public. 

Clean water is the life-blood of the Bristol Bay region. The Pebble Partnership’s indifference to the region’s water resources and the State of Alaska’s permitting process is unacceptable.

Pebble won’t apply for development permits in 2010

JANUARY 21, 2010 – 7:11 PM

That’s the word from the Pebble Partnership during a recent public debate about the proposed mine in Dillingham. It’s a delay in the company’s previous permitting schedule.

Pebble mine developers to pay fine over water-use violation

By ELIZABETH BLUEMINK

Published: February 12th, 2010 02:25 PM 

 The companies developing the massive Pebble mine prospect in Southwest Alaska have agreed to pay a $45,000 fine to the state for unauthorized use of water near its drilling sites.

State regulators said today they have suspended the permits needed for exploration at the Pebble copper and gold deposit. In a settlement agreement, the state has spelled out conditions that must be met before the permits are reinstated.

The settlement follows a state-led investigation that began after the Pebble Partnership reported the unauthorized water withdrawals in 2007, 2008 and 2009. The company said it discovered the violations last October. Alaska Attorney General Dan Sullivan signed the settlement agreement on Thursday.

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WEBBristol_RedDogMine

Red Dog Mine in the Northwest Arctic, Alaska. The proposed Pebble Mine
alone would produce 20x the ore output as Red Dog. According to the US
Environmental Protection Agency, Red Dog is the single-largest source of
toxic pollution in the United States. ©Northern Alaska Environmental Center.
(courtesy of Sportsman’s Alliance for Alaska)

From today’s ADN Editorial Pages…

Is Alaska ready for Pebble?

The recent settlement by Teck Alaska over wastewater discharge violations at its Red Dog Mine and port near Kotzebue testifies to both the value of the Clean Water Act and the risk inherent in world-class mining operations.

For Alaskans, the settlement underscores doubts about the wisdom of exploiting the Pebble prospect, which has world-class gold and copper deposits near the headwaters of some of Bristol Bay’s richest salmon streams.

We’re told Alaska has strong mining laws that will ensure Pebble is benign. Experience with Red Dog suggests those laws have failed to prevent significant trouble….

Read the complete editorial here: http://www.adn.com/opinion/view/story/945224.html

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UPDATED: from Midcurrent…

Former Alaska First Lady Part of New Pebble Mine Suit

By Marshall Cutchin

The big news out of Alaska yesterday afternoon was that former Alaska First Lady Bella Hammond has filed suit, along with native Alaskan representatives and other individuals, against the Alaska Department of Natural Resources. They say the DNR has repeatedly violated the state constitution by allowing mining exploration without regard for the public interest and without required oversight. “‘DNR has neglected its legal and moral obligation to protect Bristol Bay’s subsistence resources,’ said Bobby Andrew, spokesman for Nunamta Aulukestai, a lead plaintiff. ‘Current exploration is having a serious impact on water and wildlife, yet the agency continues to rubber stamp permits and ignore the public interest.'”

Read the entire story at Midcurrent: http://www.midcurrent.com/news/2009/07/former-alaska-first-lady-part.html

Posted on Moldy Chum’s site: Bristol Bay Native Leaders to Hold Press Briefing

Alaska Native leaders from the Bristol Bay region will hold a press event, which will be available by teleconference, in Anchorage this Wednesday to announce a significant new development in the long-running controversy over exploration and development of the Pebble mine project.

WHO:
· Bobby Andrew, board member of Nunamta Aulukestai (Caretakers of our Lands)
· Jack Hobson, Nondalton resident
· Other speakers (TBA)

WHEN:
Press Conference and Telephone Briefing
Wednesday, July 29, 2009,
10 AM Alaska Time

WHERE:
In-Person
:
Marriot Hotel at H and 7th Streets
Skagway Valdez Room
Anchorage, Alaska
Parking available at Municipal Garage

By Telephone:
Call-in number: 800-311-9402
Passcode: 5729

VISUALS:
In addition to the speakers, there will be maps and photos ready for download

CONTACT:
Harlin Savage, Resource Media, (720) 564-05500, ext. 11, harlin@resource-media.org
Lynda Giguere, Resource Media-Alaska (907) 771-4020, lynda@resource-media.org

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Gone Fishin' | Photo: www.alaskaseafood.org

Gone Fishin' | Photo: http://www.alaskaseafood.org

In a world full of leaders with massive, blinding egos, ours takes the cake. To say that Sarah Palin is inconsistent is like saying Michael Jackson is not getting enough press coverage. Just days after announcing her ‘official’ premature extraction from Alaska’s highest office, Sarah Palin is now fishing in Bristol Bay. Yes, the very same Bristol Bay in which she is in favor of exploiting for mineral wealth via the Pebble Mine.

Her support of Anglo and Northern Dynasty Minerals is now common knowledge (see: https://tspey.wordpress.com/2008/08/27/down-but-not-out/) made more evident by the fact that the Palin family has taken gifts and paid trips from pro-Pebble Mine suppporters (http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/09/25/AR2008092503988_pf.html).

In an age when one’s actions speak louder than their lies even steadfast supporters of Palin are now smacking into the broken glass-lined wall of reality. Yes, we have been hoodwinked into thinking that this person was much more than what she really is.

Alaskan politics of late has been marred with corruption. Speculation abounds that Palin’s decision may be a pre-emptive action against this nasty ‘c’ word. Alaskans have been forcefully spoon-fed this type of mush for too long. The time has passed for personal-gain politicos who have worn out their welcome.

The decision to quit makes no sense politically. What is the real reason for Palin’s fall? Family? Tired of the spotlight? Greed? So far up in Alaska, the latter is the speculative and all too common assumption.

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The re-opener was an epic display of old-time Alaska. Thousands of black-gray backs of schooled salmon in packs of 30 to 50 as far as the next bend. Fortunately, there were still trout to be had via the properly waked dry in-between the intermittent upstream rushes of first run sockeye.

IMG_0286_edited sm

The salmon run is the earliest and by far the biggest in my 20+ years on the river. The run’s strength was revealed during our trouting below the falls. At our favorite hole normally filled with hungry rainbow was a wall of sockeye. The holes were filled with fins. Even the swift water was packed with salmon raising their heads to get a view of the strange gore-tex-clad visitors. 

IMG_0277

As the day neared noon, D and I looked at each other from across the river as we simultaneously said ‘let’s get our limit’. Fred already made the switch 30 minutes sooner and was quickly on salmon after salmon. With 3 being the magic number, our plan was to quickly catch, clean and pack the fish then re-focus our sights to trout (easier said than done). This year’s sockeye are also much bigger in size than normal. Couple that with trout rods and you have a recipe for split graphite disaster.

The catching was the easy part. One cast = one fish. Landing them was another story altogether. On the 3rd and final sock, an unexpected last run and tangled-rod-to-tree nearly ended my day prematurely. Fortunately, the rod was intact. With the sounds of my buddies’ stream-muffled laughter reaching my ears as I kneeled looking at the securely tailed salmon, I knew I was lucky. Just one more second and that rod was broke.

The harvest

The harvest

The trip was as close to the old days as one could imagine. Seeing that many salmon in one small stream during a time when we are facing a threat of open pit mining in an area with an exponentially larger annual run of wild salmon puts everything in perspective. There is something much more to be had in a continuously healthy river than in a gold chain.

Trees from trees

Trees growing from trees

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1:1,000,000

1:1,000,000

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rrc-logo                       no-pebble

Town Hall Meetings

From RRC’s website: Hear Ye, Hear Ye! The Renewable Resources Coalition wants to hear your thoughts on how we can protect Bristol Bay and the world’s largest wild sockeye salmon fishery. We’re holding open town hall meetings in Anchorage with more to follow soon. You’ll have the chance to share ideas and talk with your neighbors. Shannyn Moore and Anders Gustafson will host the discussion. We want your ideas! Spread the word – because protecting Bristol Bay is good business.

March 17th, 2009
University of Alaska, Anchorage
Rasmussen Hall, Room 110
TIME: 6:00 – 8:00 p.m.

March 19th, 2009
Tanglewood Chalet
11801 Brayton Dr., South Anchorage
TIME: 6:00 – 9:00 p.m.

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