EPA Bristol Bay Report Being Reviewed
The Bristol Bay Watershed is also full of mineral deposits, tempting mining companies to exploit it
ANCHORAGE - It's the largest sockeye salmon fishery in the world. It supports thousands of people, as well as a way of life.
The Bristol Bay Watershed is also full of mineral deposits, tempting mining companies to exploit it.
In May, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released a report on potential mining impacts on salmon ecosystems in the Bristol Bay region.
Twelve independent experts from across the country began an assessment of the EPA report on Tuesday.
As part of the assessment, a three-day meeting in Anchorage began Tuesday, which included a period for public comment.
More than 100 people were invited to address the reviewers and voice their opinion on the EPA’s report.
Herman Nelson traveled hundreds of miles, from Koliganek on the Nushagak River, to speak to the reviewers Tuesday.
He told them he doesn’t want to lose ability to live off the land.
"We’re so lucky to have what we have, the renewable resource and the money that the fishing industry brings in," said Nelson.
Nelson welcomes the EPA's study, including predictions of how a mining failure could destroy salmon habitat.
"It's too dangerous, there's too much that could go wrong,” he said.
Those who support mining in the area said the EPA study was rushed
The Pebble Partnership said the reviewers need to take into account the EPA study was based on a hypothetical mine scenario.
"The problem with their imaginary mine is that it could never be built today because it could not be permitted under existing state and federal law," said John Shively, CEO of Pebble Limited Partnership.
“And because it can't be permitted, they're showing impacts that could never take place,” said Shively. “If you can't permit the mine it can’t be built so those impacts can't happen.”