While the jobs and business associated with the development of the Kensington Mine may be appealing, it would be wise for the public and the government agencies involved to give a good hard look at the risks involved in the disposal of mine wastes laced with toxic chemicals into Slate Lake near Berners Bay. Kensington's attempt to brand such waste as merely tailings is disingenuous and out of character with being a good corporate citizen.
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For years Berners Bay has put millions of dollars into Juneau, Haines and other Southeast Alaska communities through the pockets of commercial fishermen, their crew, processors, plant workers, charter operators and others who have benefited from what is, for all purposes, a natural money machine. This machine, which needs no maintenance beyond keeping its waters safe and clean, will be there long after the gold has played out. This is what the Clean Water Act is all about. This is why environmental groups have gone to court. Kensington has the permits to mine using safer dry stack methods of waste disposal.
The attempt to use a pristine body of water (Slate Lake) as a toxic waste dump is an attempt to fatten the dividends of Kensington shareholders while risking the public dividends which Berners has produced year after year. As a former commercial fisherman who enjoyed that dividend for many years, I'm not buying it.
Mike Van Note
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