In the wake of the devastating Mt. Polley Mine disaster, and even as the latest tests confirmed elevated levels of toxic copper and lead in aquatic life, a predictable progression is already underway.
Within days, the mine owner, the containment dam designer, and British Columbia's Minister of Mines began to denigrate the extent of the risks from, or their own role in, the massive spill of billions of gallons of contaminated wastes into surrounding, formerly pristine salmon spawning streams and lakes. Not that bad, not my fault -- and, from Mines Minister Bill Bennett, not much different than an "avalanche."
Across the border in Alaska, the Pebble Limited Partnership moved quickly to distance its massive Pebble Mine from the spectacular failure at Mt. Polley. Like a ghost in the night, it quietly removed from its Youtube site a Pebble Mine TV commercial highlighting British Columbia's Fraser River copper mines -- of which Mt. Polley is one -- as a model of harmonious co-existence between mining and fisheries.
Although the Partnership's spokesperson Mike Heatwole assured the media that it did so "out of deference to the people affected by this incident," there may be other more obvious, less compassionate motives for hiding a TV commercial framed around the phrase "[j]ust like the Fraser River . . . ."
Maybe the commercial was deleted because the Pebble Partnership recognizes that Mt. Polley is now synonymous not with harmonious mining and fishing co-existence but with mining and fisheries disaster.
Or maybe the Pebble Partnership doesn't want to remind anyone that the containment dam at Mt. Polley was designed by the same company hired to design the containment dams for the Pebble Mine.
Whatever the reason, the Pebble Partnership certainly understands, in the wake of Mt. Polley's huge tailings release, that the Fraser River mines are now "way off message" for their claim that no such thing could ever happen at the Pebble Mine.
The Pebble Partnership made a bad decision when it hitched its massive Pebble Mine to a mining "death star" near the Fraser River -- a public relations strategy now gone terribly wrong. It was a strategy built on Pebble's unquestioning faith in the ability of mining engineers to design and operate a containment pond that will contain millions of gallons to billions of tons of wastes on a temporal scale of centuries -- or, in the case of the failed Mt Polley dam built in 1997, at least for more than 17 years.
While it's no surprise that Pebble now hopes to "unhitch" their Bristol Bay mega-mine from the Mt. Polley disaster, we can't let them get away with it. There is absolutely no reason for anyone any longer to believe the Pebble Partnership's empty, self-serving, impossible promises that the Pebble Mine would never do to Alaska what the Mt. Polley Mine has done to British Columbia.
Tell EPA today to stop the Pebble Mine. Tell EPA to protect Bristol Bay.
Take action now.
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