New EPA Report Looks Toxic for Pebble MineLast week the Environmental Protection Agency released a report detailing the entirety of known toxic chemical releases throughout the Pacific Northwest in 2010. The report results- startling, The Alaska results- shocking. The EPA reports that Alaska mining operations account for ninety percent of ALL toxic chemical releases in the Pacific Northwest Region of Idaho, Oregon, Washington and Alaska. The EPA report characterizes a ’toxic release’ as the amount of a toxic chemical that a facility disposes of, or discharges into the environment.
Prior to this 2010 report, the national trend of toxic releases had been dropping significantly. However, in 2010 Alaska’s toxic releases increased twenty percent, producing a total of 835-million pounds of toxic material being discharged in local air, water and land. 92.3 % of this total comes from metal mining. This fact joins the long list of reasons why the proposed Pebble Mine is the wrong mine in the wrong place.
For some perspective: Pebble Mine is estimated to dump 10 billion tons of hard rock mining waste at the headwaters of the greatest wild salmon fishery in the world. That’s twelve times more toxic waste than all toxic material released in Alaskan air, land and water the entirety of 2010. This is why the majority of Bristol Bay Natives oppose Pebble Mine. It is why commercial fishers, sport fishers and even seafood processors oppose Pebble Mine.As the new EPA report indicates- the mining industry is the single largest source of toxic waste and one of the most environmentally destructive industries in the country. Discharging wastes into waters may be cheaper for mining companies, but it is not a necessary way of doing business. Right now the EPA can close two loopholes in the Clean Water Act that would greatly reduce the amount of toxic waste mining companies are allowed to release into our watersheds.