Wild Border Watersheds

Empire Editorial: Keep pressure on transboundary mines (Juneau Empire)

Bill Bennett, British Columbia’s minister of energy and mines, traveled to Anchorage last week to tell Alaskans what they already know: Fish are important.

Bennett spoke at the Alaska Miners Association conference in part to reassure Alaskans that British Columbia takes mine safety seriously.

Bennett’s message isn’t important — it’s what we expect to hear from someone who works in a government interested in industrial development. What’s more important to Alaskans is the messenger.

When was the last time a British Columbian minister traveled to Alaska in such a prominent way?

The enormous Mount Polley Mine tailings dam failed Aug. 4, spilling millions of gallons of potentially toxic material into the Fraser River watershed. Even before that dam’s collapse, Alaskans had been alarmed about the progress of a series of mammoth mines just over the border from Alaska. The Kerr-Sulphurets-Mitchell Mine, for example, is planned for the headwaters of the Unuk River, which flows across the border and empties into the Pacific Ocean between Wrangell and Ketchikan. Each summer, the Unuk and other transboundary rivers host countless salmon and their eggs. The Mount Polley Mine disaster was a perfect example of Alaskans’ fears come to life.

(To read complete editorial, click "Juneau Empire")

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