EPA Holds Public Meeting on Assessment of Bristol Bay Watershed

Monday's public meeting was the first time most Alaskans were able to speak up in-person about the risk assessment of a large scale mine.

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by Megan Mazurek

The Environmental Protection Agency holds its first public meeting on a risk assessment of the Bristol Bay watershed and the types of potential impact a large scale mining project, like Pebble Mine, would have on the area and its world class fishery.
Monday's public meeting was the first time most Alaskans were able to speak up in-person about the risk assessment of a large scale mine.
"Becoming enlightened I think is crucial for people to understand what we might lose," said Bella Hammond, First Lady of Bristol Bay.
The first meeting was held out-of-state, and at Monday night's hearing the EPA panel heard backlash because of it.
"The EPA would hold their first public hearing in Washington state when it's an issue that deals with state land our resources our management style," said Charisse Millet, R-Anchorage. "The arrogance that they had to not even come to Alaska prior to going anywhere else and I don't feel like they should be any other state talking about state lands."
The assessment found that even without failures in a long term mining project like Pebble Mine there would likely be negative impacts on fish due to blocked streams, removal of wet lands and changes in hydrology.
Not everyone in the audience at Monday's meeting is discouraged by these results.
"If you study it enough we have the technology to do it safely it's just a question of cost," said Val Angasan.
Angasan lives in Dillingham and supports safe development that would provide jobs for generations. He says he doesn't want the meeting's outcome to turn into a popularity contest or have people leave mad at each other over disagreements.
"I live out there with the community that is 95 percent anti pebble and hey I just want my right to disagree if I believe that, Angasan said."
The EPA plans to take comments until July 23rd, but people may have more opportunity to weigh in on the assessment. On Monday (6/4) Alaska's attorney general, Michael Geraghty, requested to extend the public comment period until November 20th citing that 60 days is not enough time.

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DillinghamHammer said on Tuesday, Jun 5 at 3:30 PM

That is because Val Angasan went on trips payed b the pebble. He was bought and sold. And he does not fish.

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