Opinion: Pebble mine puts entire state fisheries brand at risk

All fish will be painted with the same broad brush — toxic and damaged.

I am writing to protest the Pebble Mine permit. I am concerned about the possible and likely pollution of the waters below the mine.

If it is built, I expect that at the beginning when the Pebble Partnership knows that the eyes of the world on them, all efforts will be made to meet all the highest environmental standards. But what happens 20 or 50 years down the road? The tailings will still be as corrosive and destructive as ever, the ore will be running out, be less profitable, the mine may have been sold several times. When there is a calamity, the finger pointing will begin — “it’s not our fault,” “the previous company didn’t follow procedures,” and further deflective efforts. Decades of court procedures will follow as the salmon are decimated. Don’t tell me it can’t happen. Try telling that to the people below the Mount Polley mine disaster. What happens when the mine company gives all funds to its board of directors and files for bankruptcy? We’ve seen that happen before.

And the funds that are supposed to be available for disaster relief and reclamation. Will they really be there? Will the fund be trackable so the public can confirm that it hasn’t been diverted for a more “urgent” purpose?

If there is a calamitous destruction of the Bristol Bay run, it will affect the entire state fisheries brand. Right now, public perception of Alaska fish around the world is that it is clean, healthy and sustainable. If there is an issue, consumers don’t know the difference between Bristol Bay, Prince William Sound or Southeast. All fish will be painted with the same broad brush — toxic and damaged.

Besides the destruction of the Bristol Bay fishery, the Alaska Native culture and subsistence life style of the area, the entire state fisheries brand is at stake. This is too much to risk.

Lucy Merrell,

Juneau


• My Turns and Letters to the Editor represent the view of the author, not the view of the Juneau Empire.