Washington State Sen. Marie Cantwell is asking the US Environmental Protection Agency to block any large development project in Bristol Bay if the EPA finds that such development would harm salmon and the livelihood of those who depend on salmon.
Cantwell sent a letter to EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson expressing her support of the EPA’s decision to conduct a thorough scientific analysis of the effect of a large-scale development project on the Bristol Bay watershed. Cantwell said Bristol Bay salmon populations are “economic lynchpins” for commercial fishermen not just in Alaska but also in Washington State.
She said thousands of Washington state jobs, from processing to the restaurant industry, depend on healthy, sustainable salmon populations. In 2008 alone, Bristol Bay yielded over $113 million in total value for Washington State commercial fisheries, while recreational salmon fisheries yielded an additional $75 million for Washington State businesses alone, she said.
According to a review of the mine by London-based Anglo-American, PLC and Vancouver, British Columbia-based Northern Dynasty Minerals Ltd., the mine “would produce over seven billion tons of waste rock, a toxic stew that would be deposited in massive new artificial lakes,” Cantwell said. “Seepage into the groundwater could adversely impact the Bristol Bay watershed, which is the main outflow for the rivers and streams in the proposed mine area,” she said.