Lt. Gov. Mallott, Sen. Sullivan travel to Canada for boundary talks

Lt. Gov. Byron Mallott and U.S. Sen Dan Sullivan, R-Alaska, have finished a day of meetings in Ottawa with high-ranking Canadian officials.

In a conference call with reporters, Mallott and Sullivan said most of the talks were related to issues involving Canadian mines near the Alaska border.

“This is not some kind of anti-resource-development focus. We just think that we have some very legitimate concerns given that we are downriver from most of these mines in terms of what could happen,” Sullivan said.

Fishermen and environmental groups are concerned about mine development in the coast range; spills of acid-generating mine tailings are a particular concern for fishermen who rely on salmon-bearing rivers that originate in Canada.

Sullivan said he and the lieutenant governor had specific requests with regard to increasing opportunities for Alaskans to comment on Canadian mines, and the financial bonding requirements for mine-builders. A security bond issued by the constructor of a mine could pay for long-term water treatment after a mine shuts down, or for damages and cleanup if a disaster happens.

The Tulsequah Chief Mine, on a tributary of the Taku River, has been leaking acidic drainage for almost a decade, and the issue of cleanup remains unsolved.

According to an itinerary provided by a Sullivan spokesperson, the senator and lieutenant governor met with Canada’s minister of natural resources, environmental minister, defense minister and minister of northern affairs in a series of meetings Monday. They also spoke with the commissioner of the Canadian Coast Guard, and the parliamentary secretaries to the ministers of fisheries and foreign affairs.

An additional series of discussions is expected in April.

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