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April 19, 2018
Bristol Bay Residents Express Concerns with Proposed Pebble Project
DILLINGHAM, AK – Bristol Bay residents turned out in force this month to oppose the Pebble Limited Partnership’s (PLP) application to mine in Bristol Bay. Residents detailed the devastating impacts the Pebble project would have on life in the region.
Nearly 200 individuals from 21 Bristol Bay communities spoke publicly about their concerns with the project at the Bristol Bay hearings, including unanimous public testimony opposing the project in the communities of Naknek, Kokhanok, Igiugig, and New Stuyahok. Dillingham, the largest community in Bristol Bay, did not have public testimony. Rather, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers chose to single out Dillingham and instead instructed community members to write down comments or provide testimony solely to a court reporter. Even the few who spoke in support of the mine, still mentioned concerns with Pebble’s plans.
“The people of Bristol Bay are the experts on how this mine would affect our homes and our lives. And we have been clear about this toxic project: it cannot be built in Bristol Bay,” said Robert Heyano, President of the United Tribes of Bristol Bay. “The turnout throughout Bristol Bay over the past two weeks shows how committed we are to fight this mine. This is a fight for our future, and for the generations to come. We will never give up. The only acceptable alternative is no Pebble.”
During the meetings, Bristol Bay residents raised a wide-variety of specific concerns about PLP’s plan, including: impacts to vital salmon habitat and waters, the proposed road corridors, the underwater natural gas pipeline, noise and toxic dust from the infrastructure, perpetual tailings storage in the headwaters of the Bristol Bay watershed, the risk of acid mine drainage and tailings failures, the lack of baseline and feasibility data on many components of the project, impacts to fish, birds, and other wildlife and plants that sustain the region’s people, public health impacts, socio-economic impacts due to increased population and many concerns about the ice-breaking ferry and how it would impact winter travel, hunting and fishing, and the aquatic life the lake supports.
At the Nondalton hearing, Nondalton Tribal Council President William Evanoff said: “Our traditional lands and waters are sacred and have sustained our people since time immemorial. If developed, Pebble will affect every facet of our life.”
At the hearing in Newhalen, Pedro Bay Village Council President Keith Jensen said: “The threat of contamination during the transportation of materials over the road corridor, over the rivers and streams, across the lake is too great. At the end of the mine’s life, we will forever live with the threat of contamination from tailings ponds and dam failures.”
At the Dillingham hearing, Clark’s Point Tribal Council President Betty Gardiner shared the testimony she provided to a court reporter: “People think that because we are down the river from the mine site that our village and our fish are not going affected. But, we are going to be affected. There is no doubt about it.”
Note to media: Photos and audio/video from Bristol Bay hearings are available for publication, please contact email@example.com.