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DILLINGHAM, AK – Thursday afternoon, nearly 1,300 Alaskans delivered comments to the Alaska Department of Natural Resources (DNR) concerning the potential for the Pebble Limited Partnership to continue business as usual in Bristol Bay. Yesterday was the final day of an open comment period concerning the Pebble developer’s Miscellaneous Land Use Permits (MLUP) renewal application, which would allow the company to continue with exploration and reclamation, as well as storing equipment on State-owned land in Bristol Bay through 2018.
“The State of Alaska currently has an opportunity to hold Pebble’s developers accountable and not allow them to continue holding Bristol Bay’s people, salmon and businesses hostage with their dangerous mine,” said Alannah Hurley of United Tribes of Bristol Bay. “The high number of public comments submitted on such a technical permit application demonstrates that Alaskans remain highly concerned about the proposal and threats it poses to Bristol Bay salmon.”
Comments urged DNR to add more stringent requirements to the permit so that Bristol Bay salmon and existing fish-based businesses aren’t impacted by Pebble’s continued activities. Suggested measures of accountability included a bond, as well as increased standards for reclamation and monitoring. In November, a scientific report released by the Center for Science in Public Participation found acidic soils with high metal concentrations, leaking wells, dead vegetation, and improper drill casing closures at inspected drill sites, which comments cited as cause for concern for safety and water quality in Bristol Bay.
“The majority of Alaskans want Bristol Bay to be protected from the threats posed by Pebble Mine,” said Nelli Williams of Trout Unlimited Alaska. “This is a prime opportunity for our state leaders to demonstrate that they will put the interests of Alaskans first. Governor Walker and the DNR can choose to stand up for the people and businesses that rely on a thriving wild salmon fishery, or pander to an international mining company that puts it all in jeopardy I hope they choose be leaders for Alaskans.”
A report commissioned by several Bristol Bay lodge owners, and done by a local engineering consulting firm, estimated it would cost a minimum of $2 million to remove Pebble’s equipment storage facilities on State-owned land. If built, Pebble would be one of the largest mines in the world. Because of its size, geochemistry and location, Pebble runs a high risk of polluting Bristol Bay, one of the world’s most productive wild salmon strongholds supporting indigenous peoples and a $1.5 billion commercial and sport fishery.
“It’s time for the Governor to stop Pebble’s toxic business in Bristol Bay and stop this project that has affected Alaska for over a decade. Pebble needs to be held accountable to clean up the mess they’ve left in Bristol Bay so the cultures and jobs can continue to thrive for generations to come,” said Melanie Brown of Commercial Fishermen for Bristol Bay.