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

Clean water and Constantine don't mix


March 21, 2019

I recently dug a well at my 26-mile residence and called the Haines Borough and DEC about well testing. I was told that tests should be done annually costing about $500 depending on how many metals are chosen for testing. The DEC and the EPA state that if a resource extraction is nearby, say from a mine, testing should be more frequent. This is an annual bill of $1,000 minimum due to my proximity to the Palmer mine site, as their high sulfide deposit could easily generate acid that would mobilize heavy metals. I called Constantine. They “assured” me their activities wouldn’t affect my well and that in fact they were helping eliminate heavy metals from my water source because they will extract and remove them from the valley. Hardly reassuring. If their releases mobilize metals downstream from their property, it won’t even show up in their test wells. It falls on the upper valley community members to independently monitor the ground water for their own safety and foot the bill. Constantine told me they have no responsibility to tell residents if they have a release that could be harmful. They’re legally mandated to tell only the DEC and those results will be lost to an annual report published each January. Unfortunately, I believe the only potable waters Constantine can honestly put their name behind are not the wild rivers flowing down the Chilkat Valley, but the swimming lane they have sponsored at the community pool.

Lauren McPhun


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