Bristol Bay and the Pebble Mine
What is Bristol Bay?
About 60 million salmon arrived to spawn this past summer in the Bristol Bay region – a fishing run that is by far the largest in the world. To place an economic value alone on the Bristol Bay fishery, a report by The Institute for Social and Economic Research (iser.uaa.alaska.edu) estimated that the salmon industry created $1.5 billion sales/output in the US in 2010 and supported some 12,000 jobs, and untold other positive ‘multiplier impacts’ on the economy. Salmon also support subsistence users, sport fishers, and are an integral component of the Bristol Bay terrestrial and marine ecosystem.
What is the Pebble Mine?
The proposed open-pit Pebble mine sits on one of the largest known mineral deposits in the world, near Lake Iliamna, at the headwaters of the major rivers which drain into Bristol Bay. If developed, it would be one of the largest open-pit mines in the world, at three miles long by thousands of feet deep, and would require enormous dams to hold toxic tailings, and construction of a deep water port and hundreds of miles of roads.
A rigorously peer-reviewed three-year EPA study, estimated a loss of approximately 94 miles of streams and 5,350 acres of wetlands, lakes and ponds ultimately posing ‘an unacceptable risk’ to the Bristol Bay watershed. Now, a new EPA director, Tom Collier, and Pebble are trying to reapply for permits. For updates on this issue see www.utbb.org