Last week I travelled to Tokyo to deliver 98,600 petitions to Mitsubishi Corporation, a significant partner in the disastrous Pebble Mine project. What I heard from Mitsubishi, as we hear frequently these days from the project’s main architect Anglo American, was a request to “wait and see” – that there is no mine plan and that there will be no mine if the residents of the Bristol Bay region don’t want one.
Putting aside the Pebble Partnership’s premise of the moment that it’s only reckless speculation to think they’re planning a massive open pit mine at Pebble – at least no plan worth worrying about – there can be no question that this would be a very large mine in a very bad place:
(1) We know that, according to latest estimates, Pebble Mine will generate some 10 billion tons of waste, laced w toxic byproducts of the mining process.
(2) We know that it will be located at the head of the pristine watershed that feeds Bristol Bay, near the largest fresh water lake in all of Alaska.
(3) We know that the Bristol Bay watershed sustains one of the most productive fisheries in the world – Alaska’s wild salmon fishery -- and that the fishery generates over $400 million each year.
(4) We know that large mines leak – during or after their operation – and that copper, in even minute increases above natural levels (several parts per billion), is toxic to salmon.
(5) We know that everything in the watershed depends on the health of the salmon – the people, the communities, and the wildlife.
(6) We know that the project is overwhelmingly opposed by the residents of the region, with latest surveys indicating over 80 percent opposition in the Bristol Bay and Lake Peninsula Boroughs.
We know, in short, that this project, because of its size and its location, would pose an unavoidable risk to the entire region and that the people who live there don’t want to run that risk.
What we already know is more than enough reason to worry. And it’s enough to reject the Pebble Partnership’s basic premise that they can build, operate, and maintain a mine safely at this location -- no matter how confident their assurances or how much profit their shareholders hope to make.
Some risks just aren’t worth taking, and the Pebble Mine is one of them.