Too valuable a resource

Posted: Friday, November 08, 2002

In response to the declarations made by Coeur Alaska Inc. in Sunday's Empire, the new Kensington Mine plan is not an improved plan for the environment. The new plan includes construction of a dam that would contain the billions of gallons of mine waste planned on being dumped into Slate Lake by Coeur Alaska. This polluted lake water could then inevitably travel downstream into Slate Creek. Slate Creek enters Berners Bay.

Filling Slate Lake with mine waste will adversely affect the ecosystem of Berners Bay. This is not simply an issue of losing an alpine lake to mine tailings, this is an issue of losing Berners Bay, as we fondly know it now. This is also in violation of the Clean Water Act. Coeur Alaska is attempting to convince us that as long as they build a dam, the Clean Water Act no longer applies to Slate lake. This could set a strong precedent for all mines to bypass the Clean Water Act. With this information, it is simple. There is no room for a mine in or near Berners Bay.

There is no way to create a mine and maintain the valuable and productive environment of Berners Bay. I would encourage Coeur Alaska Inc. to continue trying to come up with a solution so that the ecosystem of Berners Bay would not be at risk.

At this point in time, however, my opinion as a resident of Juneau is that Coeur Alaska could be using their money and time in a more efficient manner - by opting for an entirely new area to exploit. Berners Bay has too many advocates, is too unique an ecosystem, and too valuable a resource.

I would encourage all reading this to access www.caa.org.au/campaigns/mining/ombudsman/2001/porgera.html as a means to identify with a lake environment affected with mine waste.

Though all situations are different, it is helpful to try and acquaint oneself with knowledge of what possible consequences of this endeavor could entail.

I would encourage all readers to invest interest in this issue of protection of Berners Bay.

Ellen Naughter

Juneau



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