Where mining's concerned: Are we doing enough about it?

Letter to the Editor

Posted: Friday, October 26, 2007

As concerned Alaskans, I think we need to back up a bit and rethink the Pebble Mine and its potential as a vast and wonderful future operation. It becomes blatantly apparent when one reviews the largest mining operations and the past history of mining in our beloved state what the truths are concerning these poems, prayers and promises.

With all of the governmental regulations, inspections and advanced monitoring devices, how is it the Red Dog Mine is spewing toxic substances at the rate of over 1 1/2 tons of highly toxic heavy-metal mercury yearly? That is in addition to the hundreds of other toxic substances you wouldn't want in your backyard.

Responsible Pebble Mine owners? Maybe you should question the hundreds of "harmless test" holes these guys are at will drilling out there. It's rather convenient we aren't told about the acid rock they are drilling into. Once disturbed by this process, the land starts weeping the once-contained toxins into the pristine aquifer. And where do you think that stuff goes?

Did you know that we have over 1,000 toxic waste dumps in our state and many of them went through the permit process?

Common sense tells me there is a heavy payment to be made somewhere down the road. Simply said, the permit process is flawed, it wreaks with loopholes. Bore hundreds of holes into the earth (some are over a mile deep out there), and it'll have an effect, believe me. Do it to your skin with a pin, you get the idea. The train wreck starts.

I ask those that read this to ponder a question: With the huge number of federal, state and local laws, scientists and governing agencies to oversee and regulate every single component of any given mine's day to day operations, why is it a fact our very own neighbor, the Red Dog Mine, is the largest single producer of heavy-metal toxic wastes in the entire United States?

Values in a society vary and it is not always that money should be even a factor in the equation of whether a project should forge ahead or be stopped.

What far-sightedness and wisdoms produce are a vision to embrace the resources, environmental health and courage to stand strong before the opposition and know within your heart what the right thing is to do.

Jay Hammond knew that, and in the future that man's wisdoms will be embraced even higher than they are today.

So I respectfully ask: Do we really wish to be known in the future as a people who knew better but never did anything about it?

Jim Oltersdorf


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