Heavy metals run out of the Tulsequah Chief mine opening and down to holding ponds next to the Tulsequah River Wednesday, Oct. 8, 2008. (Michael Penn / Juneau Empire file)

Heavy metals run out of the Tulsequah Chief mine opening and down to holding ponds next to the Tulsequah River Wednesday, Oct. 8, 2008. (Michael Penn / Juneau Empire file)

Opinion: Officials must keep up pressure to clean up BC mine

  • By Mark Hofstad resides
  • Monday, August 8, 2022 1:08pm
  • Opinion

In March 2017 I had a Commentary published Pacific Fishing Magazine imploring the British Columbia government to do the right thing and clean up and remediate the abandoned Tulsequah Chief mine. and to encourage the State of Alaska and the U.S. federal government to exert pressure on the B.C. government to do so.

This mine sits on the banks of the Tulsequah River, the largest tributary of the Taku River and, at the time of my commentary, had been polluting the Tulsequah with acid mine drainage for over six decades. That was four and a half years ago, and roughly two years after the B.C. Minister of energy and Mines, Bill Bennett stated that the province will likely need to assume responsibility for mine cleanup and closure. Well, the mine continues to pollute the Tulsequah with AMD, but there is finally an end in sight. Hopefully anyway.

Chieftain Metals, the current owner of this abandoned mine, is in a court-ordered bankruptcy receivership process currently scheduled to end in approximately one week on August 11. While the bankruptcy should shortly come to an end, this process has obstructed cleanup efforts and there is concern that a creditor of Chieftain Metals could petition the court for an extension of the receivership process, which could significantly delay or stop any further cleanup and remediation efforts.

The fact that this abandoned mine has been spewing AMD into the Taku River watershed for over six decades has frankly been the result of dereliction of duty on the part of the B.C. government. Although opportunity to fully cleanup and remediate this abandoned mine will theoretically shortly be a viable option, the state of Alaska, our congressional delegation, and the U.S. federal government need to continue to exert pressure on the B.C. government to fully cleanup and develop a truly viable remediation plan, including a fully operational water treatment system to avoid the “dilution is the solution to pollution” system which does nothing to reduce the actual amount of toxic metals entering the river.

Let’s all hope that this nasty little mess of a mine will soon and finally be relegated to a “moment” of history rather than continue to be a current and endless problem.

• Mark Hofstad resides in Petersburg. Columns, My Turns and Letters to the Editor represent the view of the author, not the view of the Juneau Empire. Have something to say? Here’s how to submit a My Turn or letter.

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