Kensington Mine Would Turn Pristine Alaska Lake into a 60-Acre Mining Dump
January 24, 2006
After announcing that it would suspend a permit allowing a gold mining company to dispose of its mining residue directly into a body of water protected by the Clean Water Act, the Army Corps opened a public comment period. Now, the Army Corps can decide to permanently revoke the illegal permit and replace it with one that upholds the Clean Water Act's commitment to keeping our nation's waters safe. Allowing this project to go forward would set a dangerous and potentially devastating precedent for all of our nation's lakes, streams, and rivers. Take action today (see link below) and ask the agency to do the right thing.
November 22, 2005
In a surprise maneuver, the Army Corps of Engineers has said that it will suspend a permit that allows Coeur D’Alene mining company to turn the pristine Slate Lake into a 60-acre dump for mining waste. The move comes after a coalition of environmental groups, including Sierra Club, took legal steps earlier this fall to stop the company’s plans to dump 4.5 million tons of chemically processed waste directly into the lake. According to the court filing, the Corps would like to review the permit and decide whether it was properly issued before the court has a chance to hear oral argument and decide the case. Sierra Club maintains that the permits are illegal and would set a disastrous precedent for future mines across the nation. Although the company has already started construction on the projects (see slide show below), the Corps alarmingly took more than a week to stop construction at the site until it determines if the permits should have been issued in the first place. The judge in the case agreed to allow the Corps’ request to conduct an internal review on November 14.
Meanwhile, on November 10, Alaska state officials issued a citation to the company for dumping construction waste into Johnson Creek, which runs through the area. Official tests showed stream sediment levels at up to 1600 times the maximum limit allowed. If the company damages water quality during construction, what can we expect from ten years of mining?
September 12, 2005
Slate Lake, with its healthy population of Dolly Varden char and other fish, is tucked in an untouched wooded terrace of the Tongass National Forest, 650 feet above Berners Bay, one of Southeast Alaska's most outstanding natural resources. All that will change, though, if Coeur D'Alene mining company moves forward with a plan to turn the 20-acre lake into a 60-acre dump for mining waste at its Kensington Gold Mine. The company has been trying to develop the Kensington Mine since the late 1980s, but recently gained momentum when the Bush administration decided to ignore the Clean Water Act and allow the company to dump 4.5 million tons of chemically processed mining waste directly into the lake. This is the first time since the passage of the Clean Water Act in 1972 that a mine has been permitted to dump its chemically processed mine wastes into a freshwater lake or stream, setting an unacceptable precedent for future mines. The dumping would smother all aquatic life and fish, and there is no guarantee that the lake will recover after the mine closes in 10-15 years. Similar flawed logic classifying mining overburden as "fill" is also used to approve disastrous mountain top removal mining in the Appalachians, which uses waste rock to bury streams and valleys. To stop this abuse of the Clean Water Act, Sierra Club has joined Southeast Alaska Conservation Council and Lynn Canal Conservation to challenge the permit issued by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
Details and Documents:
Tell the Corps to revoke its destructive, illegal, and unprecedented waste-dumping permit now, and replace it with a legal permit that protects clean water
Photos from the site
Pictures by John Hudson
Mine cited for creek erosion
November 11, 2005, by the Associated Press, Juneau Empire
Engineers plan to suspend Kensington's waste permit
November 11, 2005, by the Associated Press, Anchorage Daily News
Corps to suspend mine permit for internal review
November 10, 2005, by Elizabeth Bluemink, Juneau Empire
Motion for Voluntary Remand of Permit
November 8, 2005, Army Corps of Engineers
Corps of Engineers Allows Dumping of Mine Waste in Pristine Alpine Lake
September 12, 2005, Sierra Club Press Release
See other "Promoting Resilient Habitats" cases.