A conservation group is challenging results of a water quality study conducted for Chieftain Metal’s Tulsequah Chief Mine in British Columbia that says ongoing acid mine drainage from the abandoned mine is not affecting the Taku River watershed.
Rivers Without Borders, a conservation advocacy group operating across the Alaska-BC border, released an independent analysis today that contends there are significant flaws in that water quality study, which was done in response to the unauthorized closure of the water treatment plant at the mine.
The mining company’s study relied on an insufficient sample design, inappropriate receptor species, failed to address some study objectives altogether and reported information haphazardly, according to Rivers Without Borders. Consequently its conclusion of low risk to aquatic life from the Tulsequah Chief’s acid mine drainage is unreliable, the conservation group said.
This contradicts BC Minister of Energy and Mines Bill Bennett citing the Chieftain study as evidence that pollution is minor and thus a low priority for remedial action, Rivers Without Borders contends.
Since the Tulsequah Chief mine was abandoned nearly 60 years ago, acid mine drainage has flowed from that mine into the Tulsequah River, the largest tributary to the transboundary Taku River, which flows into Southeast Alaska.
Chieftain Metals built and briefly used a water treatment plant at the mine site about four years ago, but shut it down in June 2012, because of the cost of operating.
Rivers Without Borders is now calling on BC agencies to assume responsibility for stopping the flow of acid mine drainage.