Setting the record straight - again

Posted: Monday, January 29, 2007

It seems to be a regular theme regarding the Kensington Mine. Mark Rorick, chairman, of the Juneau Sierra Club, takes a wide-arching swing at the project in the Jan. 23 Juneau Empire. His letter is filled with prejudice, "word-playing" and hostility, claiming to be a knowledgeable environmentalist. Then Coeur Alaska is compelled to set the record straight. Take his most recent play on the word "oppose." "We at SEACC don't oppose Kensington; we did not litigate the dry stack operating plan in 1997."

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From Webster's: "Oppose - To place opposite or against something, to offer resistance, from mere objection to bitter warfare." Rorick's letter misses the key theme: SEACC's board clearly opposes Coeur's effort at Kensington to mine and reconstruct and enhance Lower Slate Lake as a bigger, more productive fishery that meets all water quality standards.

Looking back at 1997, I was the Coeur manager charged with obtaining permits for the so-called tailings dry stack. All permits were obtained. The project was designed such that it would permanently eliminate 164 acres of valuable wetlands. (Coeur's Lower Slate Lake option eliminates less than eight acres.) Yes, contrary to Rorick's statement, SEACC did oppose the dry tailings facility. They opposed geo-technical design criteria and suggested the facility was prone to differential settling and saturation failure during an earthquake, in response to the 1997 draft supplemental environmental impact statement. SEACC (as part of the then Kensington Coalition) opposed the dry tailings facility as requiring over 6.5 million gallons of fossil fuel annually to dry and stack the tailings in a letter from David Chambers submitted for SEACC. (The Slate Lake alternative uses 3 million gallons.) The Coalition (with SEACC as a member) opposed the facility because the impact statement did not address potential effects to the commercial fishery or Native subsistence, if a large diesel spill were to occur. So at the urging of United Southeast Alaska Gillnetters and United Fisherman of Alaska groups, Coeur moved the operation away from Point Sherman altogether.

Rorick is entitled to "look at every aspect of any new operating plan Coeur would ever develop to make sure it is done legally" - then he will oppose it. Rorick opposes any and all mining, sustainable and otherwise. He also opposes the 400 jobs Kensington currently provides, because you can't have one without the other.

So for now, as to SEACC's opposition to the Kensington Mine, the record is straight, again.

Rick Richins


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