During the past four years, I have been heaing many untruths surrounding the potential KSM mine on Sulphurets Creek in British Columbia. The first misstatement occurred in Ketchikan in October 2011, when Brent Murphy of Seabridge stated, “The acidity in Sulphurets Creek will basically eat your boots off.” He also showed a picture of the creek as thick and yellowish as it entered the Unuk, explaining Seabridge would improve water quality. Both statements were hotly refuted by many in the crowd, including me.
In June 2001, I was one of the 10 asked to float the Unuk River, a trip sponsored by the Transboundary Watershed Alliance. We were on the river for six days. The Unuk is a spectacular transboundary river but it demanded the skills of three experienced guides to get us safely to the mouth. We passed Sulphurets Creek, which flowed absolutely clear. Later, we stopped at an abandoned mining camp; the smell of diesel was overpowering as we walked through the mess of equipment, canoes and garbage. Was this camp evidence of provincial oversight in a mine closure? Is this why the hooligan are gone? One evening, I washed my hair in the river; although the water was so cold it gave me a headache, I did not have any worries about acidity.
Although Seabridge presents Sulphurets as laden with acidic minerals, their own Environmental Impact Study shows many photos of it running clear. Searbridge asserts that although Sulphurets is highly acidic, affecting the pH of the Unuk, that water quality will be improved after the megamine is operational, if we only trust them. Since KSM is proposing an untested water treatment method on massive volumes of water, I am unconvinced, given my observations and the low standards for Canadian mining regulations, including the preventable 2014 Mount Polley Mine dam breach in B.C.
Fourteen years ago, I saw Sulphurets and the Unuk brilliantly clear, home to many species of fish and wildlife. If KSM does not become operational, Southeast Alaska can breathe easier knowing one river will maintain its salmon runs. To say otherwise is to truly muddy the waters.