Pebble Mine — recipe for disaster?

Posted: Tuesday, November 28, 2006

I was one of the early opponents of the Pebble mine. I do not support short-term greed at the expense of future generations.

I sent article Web page references concerning gold mining disasters within the last 10 years in Nevada, South America and Indonesia to opponents, native corporations, borough assembly people and state legislators.

There were dozens more articles, editorials and letters about gold mining available. One covered the near total destruction of a national park by mine wastes in Indonesia and the health problems and birth defects caused by mine waste there. There were criminal indictments.

Another covered airborne mercury pollution spreading into Utah lakes and streams from pit gold mining operations in Nevada. Utah issue warnings that children and pregnant women not eat the fish. Cook Inlet and the Kenai Peninsula are downwind from Pebble.

Northern Dynasty is not big enough to construct and run the Pebble Mine. Eventually they will have to partner with a multinational mining company that may have caused disasters in other parts of the world.

I am not a no development fanatic. I ran for the borough assembly in 1982 and 1985 pushing the advantages to the borough of coal mining at Beluga, including coal fired electric power plants, the uses of the waste heat and coal energy for other products. I have written dozens of letters to the editor to this newspaper over the years pushing for all to get moving on coal mining.

Federal regulations requires surface coal miners to refill the pits, restore surface contours, and revegetated. There are no such requirements for gold mining.

Northern Dynasty proposes waste pits using earth-filled dams with one at 740 feet high and 3-plus miles long. We’ve had higher earthquakes than the proposed 7.8 strength. Climate predictions indicate increased rain and snow over the next 20 years — more water behind that dam. Is this a recipe for disaster?

When the mine plays out, who will pay for continued monitoring and repairs to the waste dams? The mines Alaska limited liability corporations will go bankrupt with the state and the next thousand generations to foot the bill.

The mining companies will likely import experienced miners from the played out mines in Nevada. The current short-term jobs using Alaskans will disappear.

Considering the success of Big Oil lobbying is there anyone naive enough to believe our government will say no to high risk Pebble? Lobby them with campaign donations, free drinks and free meals and too many legislators and others won’t say no.

William Phillips


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