Thank you for covering the lack of public notice on the construction approval for the Palmer Project’s wastewater discharge system. Six environmental groups and more than 700 members of the public have submitted requests to the Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) for a public comment period on Constantine Metal Resources Ltd.’s revised waste management application since it was submitted in April.

DEC is acutely aware of the overwhelming public interest and still denied us our right to participate in the decision-making process. The new system design, in a new location, will likely have new potential impacts and, therefore, deserves a new public process.

Constantine touts transparency and “responsible” resource extraction but did no community outreach on this new discharge system that could alter our watershed forever.

Construction approval for this discharge system is not insignificant. The system allows the Palmer Project to excavate a 1.25-mile-long tunnel to access the ore body, and to discharge wastewater into the ground where the complex, interconnected hydrology is constantly changing, and wastewater is likely to wind up in the tributaries of the Chilkat River.

If the hydrogeological reports that Constantine submitted with its application indicate anything, it’s that more data and more robust studies are needed to better understand the Palmer Project’s potential impacts on Glacier Creek and the Chilkat watershed before permitting a discharge system.

The public process we requested would allow for better review of proposed developments, an opportunity to raise legitimate concerns, and result in a more responsible project.

Shannon Donahue

Southeast Alaska Conservation Council