Surprised to hear about Erickson's new plans

Posted: Thursday, September 11, 2003

In the Sept. 6, 2003, Empire article on Erickson's Alaska Glacier processing plant planned for AukeNu Cove, I was surprised to read of Mr. Erickson's new plans. I have reviewed the minutes of the CBJ Wetlands Review Board and am aware of Mr. Erickson's original description of the AukeNu project.

The WRB expressed concern over the impact the project would have on the cove. Some of the problems the WRB pointed out to Mr. Erickson included turbulence from increased boat traffic, changes in water flow and sedimentation into and out of the cove from excavation and fill, increased contaminant loads from fish waste, prop wash and chemicals associated with the facility (disinfectants, preservatives) and the likelihood of future expansion.

It was the board's opinion that these factors would result in a serious decline in the health of AukeNu Cove, producing a toxic environment for one of the last eel grass beds to be found in Auke Bay and eliminating AukeNu Cove as spawning habitat. Mr. Erickson assured the WRB that boat traffic would be restricted to high tide, the footprint of the fill and the needed pilings in the cove would be minimal, discharge would be monitored and controlled over the facility's lifetime, and that he had absolutely no intention of enlarging the facility.

Based on Mr. Erickson's assurances concerning the continued health of AukeNu Cove, the majority of the WRB did not object to the facility as proposed. Many of these same promises were reiterated by Mr. Erickson when his request for an AukeNu Processing Plant went before the Planning Commission and then again when a group of AukeNu residents appealed the decision of the Planning Commission to the CBJ Assembly.

Mr. Erickson has already started to renege on his promises. The new proposal has an expanded facility several times larger than the original footprint and a much larger dock. This expansion will certainly increase the number and frequency of boats, turbulence, sediment and contaminant load. It is disappointing that Mr. Erickson forgot so quickly his promises to the various CBJ planning committees and the residents of AukeNu. It is more disappointing that the City, by collaborating on the proposed expanded facility, rewards such a lack of commitment.

I hope that the many insightful agencies involved in permitting this project take into account Mr. Erickson's forgotten promises when considering the expanded facility. Mr. Erickson's short memory calls for a reconsideration of the entire project.

Lisa Hoferkamp


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