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VIDEO: Pebble Mine and the Death Star Mine at Mount Polley

Joel Reynolds

Posted August 18, 2014 in Curbing Pollution, Environmental Justice, Health and the Environment, Saving Wildlife and Wild Places, U.S. Law and Policy

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In the wake of the devastating Mt. Polley Mine disaster, and even as the latest tests confirmed elevated levels of toxic copper and lead in aquatic life, a predictable progression is already underway.

Within days, the mine owner, the containment dam designer, and British Columbia’s Minister of Mines began to denigrate the extent of the risks from, or their own role in, the massive spill of billions of gallons of contaminated wastes into surrounding, formerly pristine salmon spawning streams and lakes.  Not that bad, not my fault – and, from Mines Minister Bill Bennett, not much different than an "avalanche."

Across the border in Alaska, the Pebble Limited Partnership moved quickly to distance its massive Pebble Mine from the spectacular failure at Mt. Polley.  Like a ghost in the night, it quietly removed from its Youtube site a Pebble Mine TV commercial highlighting British Columbia’s Fraser River copper mines -- of which Mt. Polley is one -- as a model of harmonious co-existence between mining and fisheries.  

Although the Partnership’s spokesperson Mike Heatwole assured the media that it did so “out of deference to the people affected by this incident,” there may be other more obvious, less compassionate motives for hiding a TV commercial framed around the phrase “[j]ust like the Fraser River . . . .” 

Maybe the commercial was deleted because the Pebble Partnership recognizes that Mt. Polley is now synonymous not with harmonious mining and fishing co-existence but with mining and fisheries disaster.

Or maybe the Pebble Partnership doesn’t want to remind anyone that the containment dam at Mt. Polley was designed by the same company hired to design the containment dams for the Pebble Mine.

Whatever the reason, the Pebble Partnership certainly understands, in the wake of Mt. Polley’s huge tailings release, that the Fraser River mines are now “way off message” for their claim that no such thing could ever happen at the Pebble Mine.

This brief video, just released, tells the story. Watch and then take action now.

The Pebble Partnership made a bad decision when it hitched its massive Pebble Mine to a mining “death star” near the Fraser River – a public relations strategy now gone terribly wrong.  It was a strategy built on Pebble’s unquestioning faith in the ability of mining engineers to design and operate a containment pond that will contain millions of gallons to billions of tons of wastes on a temporal scale of centuries – or, in the case of the failed Mt Polley dam built in 1997, at least for more than 17 years. 

While it’s no surprise that Pebble now hopes to “unhitch” their Bristol Bay mega-mine from the Mt. Polley disaster, we can’t let them get away with it.  There is absolutely no reason for anyone any longer to believe the Pebble Partnership’s empty, self-serving, impossible promises that the Pebble Mine would never do to Alaska what the Mt. Polley Mine has done to British Columbia.

Tell EPA today to stop the Pebble Mine.  Tell EPA to protect Bristol Bay. 

Take action now.

And then please share this blog post.  Please share the video.

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Comments

Michael BerndtsonAug 19 2014 12:37 PM

As important issue as Pebble mine is, it's hardly the only mining issue. Metals mining will be booming soon, with the rapid deployment of renewables. This includes electric vehicles. The amount of metals and materials going into manufacturing PV panels, windmills, batteries etc is staggering. Yes, metals are recyclable, but giving a rapid deployment of renewables raw material mining will boom. This is where environmental sales and marketing comes in.

NRDC may focus on Tesla and its interest to push back or workaround environmental baseline and impact analysis for the proposed battery plant in California or competing states. This is not just the manufacturing process, this is the entire life cycle from raw materials exploitation to waste management. Lithium is only a fraction of what goes into batteries. Rare earth elements are only a fraction of what goes into windmills. Silicon Valley libertarian tech folks are already complaining about environmental protection measures, while selling environmental protection products. Just like old fashion natural resources mining and extraction companies.

I realize NRDC offers "common sense" environmental advise to its clients and benefactors. But focusing on one issue over an entire international industry is a little suspicious. This mine may not get developed pursuit to Robert Redford's and others' wishes. But metals extraction will happen elsewhere. And given a rapid deployment of renewables, there's going to be more mining problems. Maybe not in as scenic areas as Alaska or Canada. Mexico, near the US boarder, just had a spill. Rare earth are aplenty next to an old iron mine along Lake Champlain.

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Switchboard is the staff blog of the Natural Resources Defense Council, the nation’s most effective environmental group. For more about our work, including in-depth policy documents, action alerts and ways you can contribute, visit NRDC.org.

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