Did anyone else weep after last Thursday's headline on Kensington "winning" its final permit (I guess it is a contest of power and money), followed by Friday's headline on Tulsequah's toxic mess? Fifteen tons of toxic discharge per year from a mine closed nearly 50 years ago, and they missed a deadline for cleanup? Where is the outrage?
The mining industry has a long history of thumbing its nose at environmental concerns and we have only to wait a few years to watch yet another toxic manifestation of this as Berners Bay is degraded by Coeur. To slide through the permitting process and be handed, on a silver platter, everything asked for to enable them to operate the mine, not in the least environmentally damaging way, but rather in a way cheapest and most convenient for the company, disgusts me. I went to the hearings. It was a done deal from the beginning. Any voice that does not speak money in someone's pocket is a voice not heard.
I recently spent five days in the bay. The weekdays were peaceful; the weekend increasingly noisy. But this noise pales in the face of what is to come. The gash through the trees at Cascade Point is already screaming. A dream on my third night there showed me the constant, noisy flow of human traffic, the concrete dock where a natural beach once lay and throngs of people looking about for wildlife no longer there. Even the trees were few.
Some have referred to Berners Bay as a playground for the wealthy. That has not been my experience over 10 years of kayaking there. Rather, it is sacred ground and sacred waters for those who hold all of life in deep respect. Coeur has no investment in this. Show us their money on a strict and enforceable guarantee that water quality and wildlife habitat will be kept in its current state, that the bay will remain a quiet haven, undisturbed by their operation, and I will listen attentively to them. For now, all I can do is pray for the Earth and all of us.
Juneau Empire ©2015. All Rights Reserved.