Monday, October 19, 2009

NRDC Fights Bristol Bay Mine

One of the Northwest's most productive salmon habitats is under threat from the development of giant gold and copper mine near Bristol Bay, Alaska [red area on map]. The proposed Pebble Mine poses a threat to the salmon runs in the Bay as well as marine mammals. According to an NRDC spokesperson few human activities are more toxic than large scale ore mining. The proposed mine, would create a two-mile deep open pit next to Lake Iliamna which feeds a 40,000 watershed including Bristol Bay. Three of the world's tallest damns would be built to hold waste from the mine including cyanide, sulfuric acid, arsenic, and selenium. A projected 9 billion tons of toxic mining waste would be created during the mine's active phase. On the other end of the scale is the world's largest sockeye and king salmon runs up the Kvichak and Nushagak Rivers. Not only do the salmon runs support a $300 million renewable resource providing thousands of jobs to Alaskans, they are the foundation species for a vast ecosystem in southwest Alaska. Most of Alaska's iconic wildlife depend on the salmon for food--eagles, grizzly bears, wolves, beluga and orcas. Conservationists are not convinced by the Pebble Partnership's (Anglo-American Plc and Northern Dynasty Minerals Ltd) reassurances of environmental responsibility. Preliminary surveys and drilling are already underway for the mine with a budget of $70 million. Former Governor Sarah Palin accepted $25,367 in gifts from mining interests according to the Washington Post. Mining interests spent $10 million defeating Proposition 4, the ballot initiative intended to reduce toxic runoff into Bristol Bay from existing copper and gold mines. Palin prominently campaigned against the measure. With gold over a $1000 an ounce the profit motivation to move ahead despite adverse environmental impacts from the mine is strong. NRDC was successful in convincing the Mexican government to stop a salt plant project proposed by Mitsubishi in the Gulf of California, the birthing grounds for gray whales.If you believe the rape of the Earth for yellow metal should be history, then click on the NRDC link in the sidebar and contribute to the fight to preserve wild America's "last frontier".