Agencies, Fishermen and First Nations See Problems for Salmon and Wildlife
November 02, 2007
"The Taku is Southeast Alaska's most important salmon river and is no place for a junior Canadian mining company to experiment with risky, untried technologies," said Chris Zimmer of Rivers Without Borders. "The company's proposal is full of holes and doesn't demonstrate they can protect fish or wildlife. The reactions the company is getting on its plan reflect that."
The US Department of the Interior, Canadian Department of Fisheries and Oceans and TRTFN recently submitted to the British Columbia government a wide range of concerns regarding potential threats to salmon, wildlife and their habitats from the hoverbarge plan and noted significant gaps in Redcorp's technical analyses. These are in addition to critical memos written by Alaska Department of Fish and Game (ADFG) biologists in May. The US EPA is expected to submit comments soon and they are expected to also be critical said Zimmer.
UFA, Alaska's largest commercial fishing group, passed a motion at their board meeting October 26 stating, "UFA opposes the Tulsequah Chief Mine transportation plan until such time that the issues raised by the Alaska Department of Fish and Game have been resolved in favor of protection of the fishery resource and associated habitat."
Issues raised by agencies and the TRTFN include:
Rivers Without Borders said this new information comes as Redcorp is preparing to submit permit applications to Alaska. Redcorp will need a Title 41 Fish Habitat permit and Title 38 Land Use permit and must undergo an Alaska Coastal Management Program review, which includes a public comment period and hearing.
"Since Redcorp needs Alaska permits to operate the hoverbarge there is now an opportunity to plan appropriately to protect the Taku's rich fisheries and the economic benefits they bring to Juneau. In September Governor Palin said Alaska agencies would be 'on top of' this issue and we urge her to follow through on that commitment. We urge the State of Alaska to declare a moratorium on permitting for projects like the Tulsequah Chief until BC comes to the table for bi-national watershed planning. We need to provide long-term certainty for Alaskans and enforceable standards for environmental protection and development," said Zimmer.
Zimmer said, while Redcorp is only asking for permits for its Tulsequah Chief property, the fate of the lower river is very much at stake. The Tulsequah Chief is one of several Canadian mining projects proposed for the Taku. Redcorp intends to develop the nearby Big Bull mine and Canarc Resources wants to re-open the New Polaris mine, across the Tulsequah River from the Tulsequah Chief. Zimmer said Redcorp is under cleanup orders from the Canadian federal government for acid mine pollution at its Tulsequah Chief and Big Bull mine sites, while New Polaris is known to have a serious problem with arsenic contamination.
"Redcorp has not cleaned
up the toxic mine pollution at both its mine sites and it has
not answered the many questions and concerns about the hoverbarge.
With this poor track record and with more Canadian mining projects
on the horizon, a moratorium on permitting for such projects
until a bi-national watershed assessment is completed is vital
to protecting Alaska's interests in the Taku," said Zimmer.
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