Chilkat Valley News - Serving Haines and Klukwan, Alaska since 1966

To judge mining, consider Greens Creek


In response to “Don’t Judge Mines on Actions from Past” (CVN, April 13), unfortunately, we only have past and present mines to base our concerns. And despite mining companies’ continued claims of “responsible development” and “environmental stewardship,” modern mines prove to be more polluting than the mines of bygone years. It is a matter of scale. Modern mines are much larger and produce more toxic byproduct. 

Greens Creek mine generates 1.5 million gallons of toxic, acid-laden water each day that has to be collected, stored, treated, and released into Hawk Inlet. According to their estimates, this will continue in perpetuity. That means that this mine will be producing acid mine drainage forever. It is impossible to run a water treatment plant forever.

Greens Creek mine is considered an exemplary mine by industry standards. Yet in the EPA’s toxic release inventory, Greens Creek is the second-largest producer of toxic waste in Alaska, and in the top five polluters nationwide. The EPA has levied many fines against Greens Creek for violations of the Clean Water Act. They have had a large, accidental spill where tons of heavy metal-laden ore fell into Hawk Inlet, which has yet to be cleaned up. 

This kind of unforeseen accident at Constantine’s proposed site would devastate salmon spawning habitat of the Klehini and Chilkat rivers. No amount of environmental regulation can predict whether an accident will occur. Are we willing to risk our salmon rivers for a foreign national corporation’s toxic legacy?

Mario Benassi


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