Bristol Bay is the eastern-most arm of the Bering Sea in Southwest Alaska. A number of rivers flow into the bay, including the Cinder, Egegik, Igushik, Kvichak, Meshik, Nushagak, Naknek, Togiak, and Ugashik.
Upper reaches of Bristol Bay experience some of the highest tides in the world. One such reach, the Nushagak Bay near Dillingham and another near Naknek in Kvichak Bay have tidal extremes in excess of 10 m (30 ft), ranking them, and the area, as eighth highest in the world. Caption: Wikipedia. Photo source: ©© B.Mully
Tuesday October 4th, marked the deadline for voting, but it will be nearly two weeks before Alaskans know the outcome of an initiative aimed at stopping the Pebble Mine project.
Municipal elections in southwest Alaska’s Lake and Peninsula Borough are conducted by mail. Ballots must be postmarked by Tuesday and in the clerk’s office by Oct. 14. They will be counted when the canvassing board meets Oct. 17. Clerk Kate Conley said results will be certified Oct. 27 if there are no challenges.
Voters are deciding whether to ban large-scale resource extraction activity, including mining, that would “destroy or degrade” salmon habitat.
It’s directed at Pebble Mine, a massive gold-and-copper prospect near the headwaters of Bristol Bay and one of the world’s premier wild salmon fisheries.
The proposed mine has attracted worldwide attention.
“Imagine a pit two miles wide by 2,000 feet deep, and an underground mine a mile deep. This gargantuan gold and copper operation would produce an estimated 10 billion tons of contaminated waste: 3,000 pounds for every man, woman and child on Earth. Massive earthen dams, some taller than the Three Gorges Dam in China, would be constructed to hold back that waste forever. Now imagine all this in an active earthquake zone at the headwaters of the largest sockeye salmon runs in the world. The threat to Bristol Bay just below is unimaginable.No wonder the Pebble Mine is opposed by nearly 80 percent of Bristol Bay residents.”
– Actor and director Robert Redford, Huffington Post
“There are few human activities as toxic as large-scale mining,” said Joel Reynolds, senior attorney and director of NRDC’s marine mammal protection project. NRDC’s Stop The Pebble Mine Project Campaign
Pebble Mine would be located 200 miles southwest of Anchorage and has been described as the potentially the world’s largest man-made excavation…
Fishers of Nation’s Largest Salmon Run Fight Proposed Mine, National Geographic
Locals and indigenous people worry that the proposed Pebble Mine will harm their remote Alaskan community.
During 2010 more than 40 million salmon swam through Bristol Bay. Beneath the headwaters of two main tributaries of Bristol Bay lies one of the largest deposits of undeveloped copper and gold in the world. Northern Dynasty of Canada and Anglo American of London jointly own the rights to the area, the site of what is known as the Pebble Mine project.
If given the go-ahead, the companies expect to dig a crater spanning two miles (3.2 miles) wide and thousands of feet deep. According to the Alaska Law Review, three large dams would be required to permanently contain 10 billion tons of hazardous mining waste, known as tailings.
“There are few human activities as toxic as large-scale mining,” said Joel Reynolds, senior attorney and director of NRDC’s marine mammal protection project. The Pebble Mine project could lead to widespread water contamination, which would destroy the salmon runs of the Bristol Bay watershed and thereby devastate the native communities and abundant wildlife the salmon have supported for thousands of years.”