The long awaited report from the EPA came out this week in reference to the largest open pit mine ever proposed in the history of man….right in the headwaters of Bristol Bay Alaska off the North shore of lake Illiamna. It was really no surprise that the EPA concluded that any open pit mine in this area could very well have devastating results on the last wild salmon runs in the world. It is really common sense. In the history of open pit mining, there has not been one mine built that has not polluted or severely altered their waterways.
Here are some quotes from the press.
“The risk of a catastrophic failure from a big gold and copper mine near the spawning grounds for Bristol Bay’s famed salmon fisheries grows 100-fold if the project is built and run under standard engineering practices rather than as a state-of-the-art operation, says a new analysis by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.”
It also says that “The chance of collapse from an earthen or rock-filled dam built to retain mine tailings is relatively small either way, whether under standard engineering or state-of-the-art practices, Dennis McLerran, administrator of Seattle-based EPA region 10, told reporters. But if it happened, a collapse could degrade salmon-producing rivers and streams for decades, the assessment said.”
And also: “Even if a large mine operated smoothly, with no engineering failures and no human-caused disasters, the EPA said in its analysis that miles of salmon rivers and streams could be lost or blocked, as could thousands of acres of wetlands that are vital to juvenile salmon.”
The people opposing the mine should feel some relief that there is some backing now to shed some light on the common sense aspect of the situation.
Angler’s Alibi, an Alaska fly fishing lodge on the Alagnak River, is hoping that this new report will shed some light on the common sense side of the issue.