Pebble Releases Environmental Baseline Document

A massive new environmental baseline document unveiled by backers of the Pebble mine is billed by mine proponents as information characterizing the physical, biological and social environments of the Bristol Bay and Cook Inlet regions.

Initial reaction to the release from commercial and sport fishing interests, as well as an environmental group based in Dillingham, Alaska, has been one of skepticism.

The document, online at, is some 27,000 pages, nearly 2 gigabytes long, too large, the Pebble Limited Partnership acknowledges, to be made available as a single download. Instead, it is suggested visiting the individual chapters to download PDFs of the 53 individual chapters.

Copies of a DVD of the document are available upon request from the Pebble Limited Partnership, which was also handing them out at Forum on the Environment in Anchorage during the second week of February.

Bob Waldrop, executive director of the Bristol Bay Regional Seafood Development Association; Kimberly Williams, executive director of Nunamta Aulukestai (Caretakers of the Land), and Tim Bristol, director of Trout Unlimited Alaska, issued a statement Feb. 3 saying that the data release from the Pebble Partnership has done little to help foster a “more factual” debate on the mine, as proponents of the mine have been calling for in a television advertising campaign.

“The known facts of this proposed project remain the same: It is a giant and diffuse sulfide ore body in a seismically active zone beneath the salmon-rich headwaters of the Nushagak and Kvichak drainages,” they said. “Any project to develop the ore body at Pebble puts the Bristol Bay Basin’s aquatic and terrestrial ecosystems, as well as the region’s world class salmon fishery, at risk.”

Waldrop, Williams and Bristol noted that the information presented in the document had already been presented to a number of agencies and government officials in Anchorage at meetings to which the general public was not invited. Instead they were limited to access through an online webcast until, after objections were raised, one representative from each Bristol Bay tribe was allowed to attend.