Before our local government commits our community to jumping into bed with the Alaska Industrial Development and Export Authority (AIDEA) to build a new dock and ore terminal on Lutak Inlet, there are many questions to be answered and public involvement that must take place.

AIDEA has an ore terminal that it owns in Skagway, just 15 miles away. With the boom and bust of the mining industry, it has been used sporadically over the years and had to be rebuilt because it was falling apart. Skagway also faces a multi-million-dollar cleanup of their Inlet basin from heavy metal contamination. No one is stepping up to take on that responsibility.

Lutak Inlet is our salmon nursery for the Chilkoot spawning grounds. One spill of heavy metal ore into the inlet could wipe out a year or more of fish returns. Who will pay for the lost revenue and food to our local fishermen and subsistence users? The resources getting shipped overseas would primarily benefit foreign corporations. The ore would most likely be coming from Canada on trucks driven by Canadians. There would be only a handful of local jobs at the facility and, depending on the commodity market, they will come and go.

We need a transparent, open public process regarding this issue, including full financial disclosure, pollution liability, bonding, ownership and ultimately a public vote to proceed before hundreds of ore trucks per week are rumbling through our valley to our oceanfront with toxic material.


Thom Ely