Three ocean and river barges are headed toward Southeast Alaska this week as part of a plan to haul construction supplies up the Taku River to the Tulsequah Chief Mine.
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The conventional barges aren't part of mining company Redcorp's contentious proposal to use amphibious hoverbarges on the Taku to service the mine, roughly 40 miles northeast of Juneau in Canada.
The barges could arrive as soon as today and will be temporarily stationed in deep water at the mouth of the Taku to ship supplies for temporary camps for construction crews, to install a sewage system, and to mark boundaries and construction areas for a temporary access road on the company's mining claim.
A smaller barge will be maneuvered via tugboat up the river to the mine site on the Tulsequah River, said Salina Landstad, a spokeswoman for the Vancouver-based mining company, Redcorp.
The first trip is slated for 1 a.m. Saturday and the operation is expected to take roughly 10 days, depending on weather and river conditions, Landstad said.
"I don't know the exact size" of the vessels, Landstad said.
Redcorp has hired Wainwright Marine Services of Prince Rupert, British Columbia, to handle the job.
Landstad said the conventional barge plan did not require permits from Alaska or U.S. agencies, and that the company has alerted the agencies and cabin owners who might be affected.
Jackie Timothy, a biologist who has worked on the hoverbarge aspect of the plan for the Department of Natural Resources, said she doesn't believe her department requires permits for the conventional barges because they would be operating in "navigable" waters.
The tugs and barges would not be moving over shallow waters, as would the "Amphitrac" vessel proposed for the hoverbarge operation.
Redcorp met last week with cabin owners to notify them of the plan.
Errol Champion, who owns a cabin up the Taku, said he still has unanswered questions about the operation.
He said, however, "We are not totally in the dark."
He doesn't believe Redcorp intends to damage to the river, but he worried about the maneuverability of the barges.
"The river has been running very, very high," he said, and high wakes could cause additional erosion.
"It is not going to be easy. It is not easy for any of us to run the river," said Champion, who frequently runs the tidal waterway.
Landstad said that Wainwright has spill prevention plans in place and carries insurance in case of damage to property.
Redcorp Ventures is a Vancouver-based mineral exploration and development company with projects in British Columbia and Portugal. More information on Redcorp and the Tulsequah project can found at www.redcorp-ventures.com.
Brittany Retherford can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 523-2276.