November 15, 2012 | Volume 42, No. 46

Mine not compatible with Chilkat River

The potential of a major mining project at the headwaters of the Chilkat Valley and an industrial, mega-hydro project in the Chilkoot Valley to power it threaten our sustainable fishery. Mining, industrial development and wild salmon returning to spawn in our rivers downstream of these projects are incompatible. It’s a choice, one or the other.

We are not talking about Hollywood placer mining. The Palmer deposit, which Constantine Resources is exploring, is a massive sulfide ore deposit comprised primarily of copper and zinc. When exposed to air, the sulfur liquefies the metals and suspends them in water. Everything flows downstream.

Studies show that salmon have an aversion to copper. Millions of gallons of toxic water would need to be stored behind a huge dam. The “treated” water would be discharged into the Klehini River.

This season our fishing fleet hauled in $15 million dollars wo­rth of salmon. These fish congregate and spawn in our local waters and are dependent on a clean environment to do so. Alaska is one of the few remaining places with healthy wild stocks of salmon. In the rest of the world industrial pollution and habitat destruction have wiped out the wild fish.

It’s time to make the choice for our watersheds before millions of dollars are spent on further studies and development of these industrial projects. Government is set up to proceed to permitting and approval. We are a fishing town. Get involved now as the future of your livelihood and lifestyle depends on it.

Thom Ely