After changing plans several times, Kensington gold mine officials say they will fuel their proposed employee ferry at Cascade Point.
Originally, fueling operations - a potential aquatic pollution source in Berners Bay - were slated to occur at Cascade Point, near Juneau's Echo Cove, which is about 40 miles north of downtown.
Recently, environmental and practical considerations led Coeur Alaska, the mine's developer, to propose refueling at Slate Creek Cove in Berners Bay. Slate Creek Cove, on the west side of the bay near the mine, is the planned destination for the boats that will bring employees, diesel fuel and supplies to the mine.
But facing an administrative nightmare over the proposed change, Coeur Alaska is back to Cascade Point, and company officials said refueling will be conducted there by Juneau's Native corporation, Goldbelt, at its proposed dock for the mine's ferry.
Goldbelt plans to submit formal plans for a refueling operation at Cascade Point, where it would install a fuel line to service the ferry on a weekly basis.
Regulators, Goldbelt officials and Coeur officials all agreed that there has been an unfortunate amount of confusion and miscommunication about the mine's fueling operations.
City planning director Peter Freer said not enough analysis was completed on fueling operations to satisfy the city's concerns.
As a result, a Juneau Planning Commission hearing that was set for Tuesday on the Goldbelt ferry terminal at Cascade Point had to be delayed until Sept. 30, he said.
"It makes us look wishy-washy but all we are trying to do is accommodate agency concerns," said David Goade, Goldbelt's executive vice president.
"The location of our (fuel containers) and Berners Bay's eulachon run drove us to Cascade Point but the herring issue there drove us to Slate Creek Cove," explained Rick Richins, project director for the Kensington Mine.
Richins plans to submit a best-management plan for fueling and barging operations to regulators and city officials by Sept. 30.
"I would say it's definitely been confusing. We want to make very clear our operations at Slate Creek Cove, how Goldbelt will operate at Cascade Point, and how the two will mesh together," Richins said.
Regulators said that they would require strict monitoring to make sure that fuel spills do not harm occasional herring spawning at Cascade Point.
Juneau Empire ©2014. All Rights Reserved.