Wednesday, August 22, 2018

Transboundary Mine Negotiations Criticized for Missing the Target

Alaska Lt. Gov. Byron Mallott and Sen. Dan Sullivan, R-Alaska, have thanked Canadian government officials for their attention to transboundary mining issues, but say key areas of concern remain.

In their July 31 letter to Minister of Environment Catherin McKenna and Minister of International Trade James Carr, made public on August 21, they identified reclamation of the Tulsequah Chief mine site as one of those key areas, and urged their help in coordinating and facilitating British Columbia’s efforts to do so. They also urged the support of Canada’s government in establishing and funding a joint water quality monitoring program for salmon rich transboundary rivers that flow from British Columbia into Southeast Alaska.

The Tulsequah Chief mine, which operated from 1950 to 1957, and is currently in receivership, has been leaking acid mine drainage ever since.

Salmon Beyond Border, which represent commercial and sport fishermen and tribal groups on both sides of the border, thanked Mallott and Sullivan for writing the letter, but said they seem to have lost sight of the real issue. That is, they said, the need for binding international agreements and financial assurances to protect shared waters, rather than the continued pursuit of non-binding understandings that the group says hinder real action and liability.

Salmon Beyond Borders Campaign Director Jill Weitz said Teck Resources has been required to post more money in financial assurances for its one Alaska mine than for all five of its British Columbia coal mines that drain into Montana, despite their adverse impact on fish downstream in US rivers. Weitz also noted that Canadian taxpayers ended up footing the $40 million cleanup bill for the Imperil Metals’ Mount Polley disaster in the Fraser River watershed, which flows into the ocean just north of the Washington state line.

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