By Nick Gilbert
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has provided a comprehensive assessment of Bristol Bay in Alaska, which has won the support of environmentalists, conservation activists, sportsmen, hunters, anglers and people belonging to the fishing industry.
The scientific assessment, which runs for 339-pages, recognizes the bay area as an important area for sockeye salmon fishery and the detrimental effects to this area that may occur due to the proposed Pebble mine. The open-pit mine will become the largest of its type in North America, and will produce toxic mine waste in the size of 10 billion tons. This waste has to be treated and stored permanently. The wetlands in the Bristol Bay watershed may be used for mining-associated dredge and fill activity.
The EPA assessment found that around 14,000 jobs with a value of around $480 million were provided by the wild salmon fishery and the other natural resources of the Bristol Bay. Mining of the Pebble deposit will affect around 2500 acres of wetlands and approximately 87 mi of salmon streams.
The EPA made approximate estimates of the potential failures by studying four different types of large mine failures. They found that accidents may occur, which may lead to immediate and long-term critical impacts on salmon and its habitat.
The CEO of Trout Unlimited, Chris Wood, has called upon President Obama to protect the numerous American jobs, the revenue and the fishery. Sportsmen are supporting the EPA to use the Clean Water Act and protect the bay.
The Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership, the American Sportfishing Association, the Dallas Ecological Foundation, the Dallas Safari Club and around 500 hunting and angling groups have expressed their support for the EPA to preserve and protect the Bristol Bay region from the proposed Pebble Mine.