On Monday, Oct. 21, a public comment period ends regarding the proposed KSM mining project in British Columbia at the headwaters of the Unuk River watershed. “The end” you say? Yep. While everybody was thinking about Pebble, the project that will directly affect our local environs, health and welfare, and our food, is one step closer to completion.
I’m just as guilty as the next person — even more so — as a commercial fisherman! This project has the potential to negatively affect the largest local king salmon river we have. I’m definitely not against mining, or any other use of our lands and water. I’m just a stickler for the responsible usage of them, and the guarantee that one industry’s uses, or misuses, will not negatively impact another’s.
If people look into the plan that’s been put forward to deal with the acid-laden rock that’s going be stored in a barricaded-off mountain valley, I think the general feeling of local people would be of dismay. The plan calls for approximately 200 tons of mine waste — per day — to be dumped into a mountain lake for very possibly 200 years! This is probably the most far-reaching corporate promise I’ve ever heard.
In the age of corporate buy-outs, takeovers and bankruptcies, responsibility is a fiscal note. If the company has enough money, they will be responsible. We have many local clean-ups that have been passed on here in Southeast, eventually falling to the federal government. Note to all: The feds probably will not have the money to clean up messes in Southeast Alaska, as they have their own messes in D.C. to take care of.
We are people of the water here in Southeast. We survive because of clean water. Tourists come here because of clean water. Defile the water and we are finished. Simple.
My hope is that enough people take the time to read up on the KSM mine proposal and, if it passes the truth test, call our reps, both federal and state.
You have until Monday to get your comments in to Canadian regulators to demand that if the KSM mine goes forward, Southeast Alaska’s wild salmon and clean water won’t be harmed. A form you can use is available at: http://americansalmonforest.org/ksm-comment-form/.
• Clay Bezenek is aKetchikan-based commercial fisherman since 1983.