Mine threatens healthy fisheries

Letter to the editor

Posted: Wednesday, September 14, 2005

I remember about 15 years ago the Kensington Mine project started to rear its ugly head and several fishermen went and testified.

I was one of them. We are concerned for the water quality of both the salmon streams and our inside waters.

This mine will pollute. After 10 years of mining a largely nonessential metal that will show up on your local shopping channel, we will be stuck with a polluted lake and poisoned salmon streams. To make it a little easier to do this, now our government is proposing to relax our water quality standard in salmon streams.

Our administration has worked hard and spent millions of dollars on touting the healthy aspects of our wild salmon.

One of the reasons why our wild salmon is so healthy is because it does not contain pollutants like heavy metals that can be found in farmed salmon. Dumping 4.5 million tons of chemically-processed mine waste in our waters will certainly not be a very healthy thing to do. Such disposal of mine waste into a public water body violates the Clean Water Act. Why would you promote a healthy product and then propose to relax the water standards to make it less healthy?

I can see the headlines of a "salmon scare" on the wall. It happened when they found mercury in tuna. And for what, a few more jobs that will not necessarily be for many locals?

Coeur's financial status has been shaky, and the actual number of local jobs that this mine would provide is uncertain. The loading facilities being built will need another project once the mine shuts down, and we will have to look for some other industry to support them.

Slowly Berners Bay will change. The mostly untouched wilderness area will be impacted by pollution, and once again, we do not seem to have a say in its fate because it is "progress."

Let's rethink this and look at the long-term positive aspects of leaving our wild waters clean versus short-term profits for a mining company that does not have a very good track record in other places when it comes to fessing up and cleaning up serious pollution they caused.

Elisabeth Babich

Juneau



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