Lower branch of the Taku Glacier and Grizzly Bar, October 2018. (Gabe Donohoe | For the Juneau Empire File)

Lower branch of the Taku Glacier and Grizzly Bar, October 2018. (Gabe Donohoe | For the Juneau Empire File)

Opinion: Canada must clean up mine pollution

Protecting Alaska’s environment is a sober challenge.

Protecting Alaska’s environment is a sober challenge when erosion and contamination collide forces. There are no conflicts of interest when the power of nature issues its results. Many have eye witnessed such destructive forces that move with intensity without conscience.

Increasing evidence persuades that any solution realized to control the extreme wind, high tide surges, must alter the course of the erosion and inland seas by engaging the geography itself. Efforts to acquire a solution dictates that a permanent barrier system be implemented to control inland saltwater encroachment. Sand bags and current deflectors are pointless.

Landmass susceptible to excessive weather conditions drain inland forming seas that are fully capable of overwhelming toxic containment dams and waste systems. The mining industry produced vast amounts of mineral tailings from processed ore. The composite waste minerals contain lethal elements such as arsenic 33 and mercury 80, yet the combination of processed minerals also produce new alloys and uncharted particles not on the periodic table. These introduced heavily in parts per million, may alter the aquatic food chain for many square miles for years.

[Opinion: Clean up that damn mine]

Consider, the forces of nature that submerged a damaged nuclear energy plant thousands of miles away. The event affected fish only hundreds of miles from our coast. On U.S. soil, “Spent Fuel Rods” from reactors are stored at “30 inactive nuclear plants.” San Clemente’s 2013 reactor shutdown are cooling spent fuel rods in concrete steel-lined containers at “the edge of the Pacific Ocean.” Science and the probability of nature’s power seems of little concern to authorities with a limited perspective. Recent severe fires, earthquakes and extreme storms have no conscience.

This is why Alaska must resolve the massive (decades old) mine waste contamination sites only 40 miles from Juneau, up the Taku River. The notified Canadian authorities now carry the responsibility. Alaska’s response must now be capable of leveling a fine for noncompliance.

The only plausible avenue to make safe the mining sites is to encase the contaminated material; in a formula that breaks own the particles with an aggregate and calculated cement with a chemical solution bonding agent. The curing time is progressive, yet the set is waterproof and hard as granite within days, yet released from molds in hours. With the aid of sonic vibration and vacuum techniques air is removed for a consistency. Pours have strength and are submersible.

[Toxic water leaches into prime Alaska, Canada salmon habitat]

It would be prudent while mixing this formula to invest the pour into a needed object. A three-part formula poured into molds creatively designed as large, interlocking, stackable erosion barriers is needed. The size of the poor depends upon the equipment that will remove, transfer and install. Molds are duplicated to insure multiple pours on a continuum providing a stockpile of barriers.

The lifespan of the barriers is centuries. The barriers viewing face can be designed in any number of images, including trees. Support P.E.B. Alaska to equip this generation to serve the next.


• R.D. Robinson is a sculptor and designer. My Turns and Letters to the Editor represent the view of the author, not the view of the Juneau Empire.


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