Harvesters Say PLP is Betting Fishermen’s Assets
That Mine Will Work

A spokesman for Bristol Bay salmon drift permit holders says proponents
of the Pebble mine are betting fishermen’s assets that they can safely
develop and operate a large-scale mine at the headwaters of a critical

“They are playing poker with chips they don’t own,” said Bob Waldrop,
executive director of the Bristol Bay Regional Seafood Development Association.

“They are betting our assets that they can do this safely and not
destroy the fishery forever,” he said in an interview with Fishermen’s News April 29. “They are betting the commercial fishery
that they can do this perfectly. The science and our collective experience with
large-scale mining in this country don’t support that.”

Waldrop’s comments came on the heels of a revised draft report from the
US Environmental Protection Agency that said large scale mining at the
headwaters of the Bristol Bay watershed could wipe out up to 90 miles of
streams in the world’s largest sockeye salmon fishery, and up to 4,800 acres of

The Pebble Limited Partnership, which recently announced plans to spend
an $80 million this year to prepare for applying for mine permits, has called
the EPA report flawed and biased and urged the EPA to abandon the report
altogether. “We’ll design a mine that will operate safely and responsibly and
will meet the high regulatory standards for development in Alaska,” said John
Shively, chief executive officer of the Pebble Limited Partnership. PLP
proponents point to the fact that they have spent much of the last decade, and
millions of dollars to prepare for the mine, and say they want due process.

Waldrop countered that all those millions of dollars can’t change the
geochemistry, the size and the location of the project. And the revised draft
report underscores that large-scale mining, even with no catastrophic failure,
will block streams with roads and development and more, he said. “Moreover, EPA
provides a more thorough understanding of Bristol Bay’s complex water system
and notes that impacts from water use and water treatment could have dramatic
impacts on wetlands, fish spawning and fish rearing habitat,” he said.

The revised draft document and information on how to comment on it
before the May 31 deadline are at www.epa.gov/bristolbay.