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By Dan Rudy 

Mining meeting to be held in Wrangell

 


Salmon Beyond Borders and the United Tribal Transboundary Mining Working Group will be holding a presentation in Wrangell on the effects of large-scale mining on local river systems on Tuesday, 6 p.m., at the Nolan Center.

The public forum is one of five planned for Southeast cities, including Sitka, Juneau, Ketchikan and Petersburg. They will provide opportunities for residents to learn about open-pit mines planned in Canada's British Columbia province and their potential impacts on the region's commercial, sport, traditional and customary fisheries.

A series of mines are planned along the Stikine, Unuk and Taku river watersheds, rivers which contribute greatly to the region's salmon fisheries and whose natural beauty supports a vibrant outdoor tourism industry.

The August breach of a large mine tailings pond at Mount Polley Mine in Canada has caused considerable concern among Alaskan communities regarding the efficacy of B.C. regulatory oversight. In the disaster, 31 million cubic yards of metals-contaminated water was released into the Fraser River system, impacting trout and salmon spawning areas.

The City and Borough of Wrangell last month issued a letter to senators Lisa Murkowski, Mark Begich and Rep. Don Young, expressing its concern about the mines and asking that they become more involved in the matter.

Alaska's legislative delegation has recently joined with the National Congress of American Indians and a collection of tribal, environmental and industry groups in seeking the State Department to more actively engage itself in safeguarding transboundary waters shared between Canada and the United States.

In particular, the department is being asked to activate the International Joint Commission established by the Boundary Water Treaty of 1909 to review the matter and make recommendations to resolve Alaskan concerns. The commission would have six commissioners, split evenly between the two countries.

All residents are invited to attend the presentation, which will feature geophysicist Dave Chambers and fisheries biologist Sarah O'Neal as speakers.

 

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