by Gloria Simeon
To whom it may concern,
The proposal to deal with the waste water resulting from mining operations of the proposed Donlin mine is doomed to fail.
First of all, the State of Alaska is in no position, fiscally or otherwise, to regulate, monitor or oversee the mine. They have failed to do so in the past and I don’t see this changing. The People, our rivers, villages and the resources we depend on for sustenance have suffered the consequences of this failure for decades. Our land is scarred with this lack of care and from the start.
A perfect example of this is the failure of the Illinois Creek mine. The State of Alaska fast tracked the permitting process without doing due diligence on the company’s finances. The company went bankrupt and left the state. The surety bond was at least one million dollars short of the funds to remediate.
It is proposed that Donlin regulate and monitor itself. They cannot and must not be allowed to conduct their own testing. This would be the fox minding the chicken house. A third party with no strings attached must be contracted to do all the testing and reporting at Donlin’s expense.
Furthermore, the villages downriver from the mine must also have testing capability and the resources to respond in the event of any failure of these safeties that Donlin promises.
The type of mining proposed by Donlin has waste and tailings that must be monitored forever because that is how long their toxicity lasts. I don’t see a definition of perpetuity according to Donlin, nor do I see these forever plan to monitor and treat this position.
Any part of the development of this mine is certain to have a negative impact on the entire region. The positives may outweigh the negatives in the short term. However, any failure of any part of this operation would be catastrophic and deal a death blow to a People with culture and traditions that must have healthy air, land and water.
Our water, air and land provide us with the resources we depend on to survive. Those resources, our birds, fish, game, sea mammals and plants can only sustain us if they too are healthy.
This mine is a threat to the lives of every living thing on the Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta. Our dependence on subsistence is not, “a way of life”. It is our life. The water is the life blood of our land.
I have great fear of a future of dead rock and poisoned water spreading throughout our region if this is developed. This cancer cannot be allowed to gain hold and metastasize here.
Currently, Alaska is at ground zero experiencing climate change and its impact on our fragile environment. Weather patterns are changing unpredictably every season. Extreme heat with dry conditions leaves the tundra vulnerable to lightning strikes and fire. Water levels on the rivers are constantly in flux and undependable.
Mining as we all know is the most environmentally destructive form of development. The process to extract the precious one gram of gold per ton of rock affects and infects the very land, water and air we need to sustain us. The prevailing winds will spread not only the dust resulting from blasting the mountain, layer by layer. Included will be the chemicals used to roast and toast, basically kill, the rock to extract this gold.
The millions, billions, trillions of gallons of water needed to mine this gold has to come from somewhere. Once it is used and treated, will it be safe for consumption? I wonder about the tailings lake liners. We have been assured that they can withstand anything. How will these “indestructible” liners stand up to lightning strikes and fires? Not to mention earthquakes.
Donlin is only prepared to deal with the expected. They are not prepared to deal with the unexpected. Our environment is changing so fast, we can’t allow the development on a maybe.
Donlin, their subsidiaries, parent and other companies, hidden in the paperwork do not have a good track record in this country or in any other country in the world for that matter. They are behind corruption and environmental degradation wherever they go. I believe it is the federal and state government’s responsibility to thoroughly vet these foreign companies. Their human rights and environmental practices investigated before they are even allowed to operate in this country. Some of these companies’ practices in regard to human rights violations and environmental degradation is atrocious. It is shameful these are even allowed to exist.
Gloria Simeon is a resident of Bethel, Alaska.