Push for SE Alaska River Protection

Alaska fishermen are renewing their pursuit of State Department action to protect transboundary watersheds in Southeast Alaska from adverse affects of mining.

Fishermen are calling on Secretary of State John Kerry to secure agreements with Canada to protect transboundary rivers and indemnify from loss those who could be harmed by mining activity along the border, says Dale Kelley, executive director of the Alaska Trawlers Association.

Kelley’s comments came in the wake of a fourth letter sent by Alaska’s congressional delegation in early September seeking a meeting with Kerry along with his efforts to ensure that British Columbia institutes appropriate safeguards to prevent potential negative impacts from mining to fisheries habitat.

The transboundary watershed conservation entity Rivers Without Borders meanwhile noted that Chieftain Metals Corp., owner of the defunct Tulsequah Chief mine in the transboundary Taku watershed since 2010, is in receivership, and that the majority of directors of the company had resigned.

The court order resulted from West Face Capitol, which owns about one third of Chieftain, issuing a repayment demand in August for $26 million in loans to Chieftain that the company has not paid back.
Since the mining companies have been unable to halt the ongoing acid mine drainage into the Tulsequah River, which has been going on for over two decades, it is time for the government of British Columbia to honor the promises made last August by Energy and Mines Minister Bill Bennett and clean it up, said Chris Zimmer, Alaska Campaign Director for Rivers Without Borders.

Bennett had visited the site in August 2015 and pledged to do something about it.

A spokesperson for the BC Ministry of Energy and Mines had no immediate response on what action, if any, the ministry planned to take.

In their letter to Kerry, the Alaska congressional delegation expressed their frustration over seeing little action from the State Department regarding transboundary waters.