EPA releases final report on Bristol Bay

Potential impact of mining could be devastating

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by Mike Ford

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency released its final report Wednesday on the potential impacts of mining in the Bristol Bay region.

According to the report a large-scale copper and gold mine in Alaska's Bristol Bay region could have devastating effects on the world's largest sockeye salmon fishery.

The report's findings are similar to those of an earlier draft. It concludes that depending on the size of the mine, up to 94 miles of streams would be destroyed by the mine's footprint, including up to 22 miles of streams known to provide salmon spawning and rearing habitat. Up to 5,350 acres of wetlands, ponds and lakes also would be lost.

EPA has said its goal was to get the science right. The agency says the assessment will inform possible future government actions.

In a press release after the findings Pebble Partnership CEO John Shively stated he sees many problems with the EPA report.

"It is a disappointing day when an agency charged with upholding a science based regulatory process ignores its own rules and regulations and does not take the time nor expend the effort needed to fully assess impacts in the vast Bristol Bay region. We had higher expectations for the EPA."

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