Bristol Bay and Surrounding Lands and Rivers
We must protect Bristol Bay from the ecological devastation that would accompany a large-scale copper and gold mine proposed by Rio Tinto. A two-mile-wide open-pit mine gouged into the land at the headwaters of the Bristol Bay watershed would produce an estimated 10 billion tons of contaminated waste. The plan is to store the waste behind massive earthen dams, which is not the best idea as evidenced by the failed earthen dams, better known as levees, in New Orleans. What makes this proposed mine and waste ponds so dangerous is that the entire area lies in an active earthquake zone.
Mines such as those proposed upstream from Bristol Bay can release arsenic, sulfuric acid, cyanide and heavy metals including lead, cadmium, zinc and mercury. Other forms of toxic pollution are present that are lethal to fish and can cause human health problems including cancer and neurological damage.
Planned Pebble Mine Operation
Water would constantly have to be drained away from the mine to prevent copper and acid mine pollutants from seeping into the watershed that drains into streams where salmon, by the trillions, have spawned for thousands of years. The Bristol Bay watershed lies within the region of Southwest Alaska, near Lake Iliamna and Lake Clark. This is an area that encompasses the headwaters of important salmon spawning streams that feed the Kvichak River, Nushagak River and Mulchatna River. These streams include the legendary waters of Upper Talarik Creek and the Koktuli Rivers.
Bristol Bay is one of the most productive marine ecosystems in the world, home to the largest wild sockeye salmon runs in the world; important nursery grounds for red king crab and Pacific halibut; staging areas and wintering grounds for tens of millions of seabirds; and a feeding ground and migration corridor for marine mammals, including five endangered species.