2011

14 July 2011

Watch for EPA Announcements

Watch for announcements of official EPA public meetings regarding the Bristol Bay Watershed Assessment.

EPA has said it expects to travel to the Bristol Bay region sometime in Spring 2012 for a first round of official public meetings about the draft assessment. When dates and locations are announced, we will add them to our calendar.

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11 July 2011

Got technical (or traditional) data? EPA wants to know...

A reminder that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has posted a call for information on its Region 10 website in order to collect additional information in support of its Bristol Bay Watershed Assessment. According to the website, technical data or site-specific studies would provide additional knowledge about area resources and help the EPA understand the effect that future development might have.

Types of studies requested would be related to:

* Shellfish and fishery areas
* Municipal water supplies
* Wildlife
* Recreation
* Subsistence and cultural information

The Pebble Watch team also asked EPA what role Traditional Ecological Knowledge will play in its watershed assessment. Their response:

“EPA is learning about traditional ecological knowledge through interviews with tribal elders and culture bearers, learning about their perception of the role of salmon in the physical, cultural and mental health of the people. The traditional ecological knowledge section of the watershed assessment will include gathered information on the social and spiritual aspects of salmon harvest, preparation and sharing. The traditional ecological knowledge will also include case studies for salmon-dependent native communities that have experienced significant environmental changes.”

If you know of technical data, a study, or cultural information that might be helpful, please contact Senior Management Lead Richard Parkin (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. ) at 206-553-8574 or 800-424-4372, extension 8574.

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06 July 2011

EPA Mining Information presentations now online

epa-bbpage-screenshotEPA has posted the presentations from its Mining Information sessions held in Newhalen and Dillingham June 2-3, 2011 on the Bristol Bay Mining Information Sessions page of its website. The materials are posted in four parts, in PDF format. They may be downloaded from the EPA site, or via the links below:

Part 1, Mining Fundamentals, provides an overview of minerals exploration, the types of mining and types of mineral processing.

Part 2, Environmental Concerns and Issues, describes mining waste products, discusses potential environmental impacts, and discusses ways of preventing, controlling and remediating those impacts.

Part 3, Agencies & Regulatory Process, provides an overview of some of the many state and Federal authorizations and permits involved in mining, the Acts that govern them, and the Federal agencies involved.

Part 4, How Tribes Can Be Involved, includes resources on EPA’s consultation procedures, the process for government-to-government consultation, and the criteria and process for becoming a NEPA Cooperating Agency. It also provides contact information for requesting training and educational opportunities, and guidelines on how EPA may use traditional knowledge. There is also a link to information on EPA”s Environmental Justice plan, “Plan EJ 2014,” for which EPA is currently accepting comments.

            
            

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19 June 2011

Bristol Bay residents provide input to EPA

Top decision-makers involved in the ongoing U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Bristol Bay watershed assessment took an informative boat ride along the Nushagak River early this month after coming north to meet with community members in Newhalen, Ekwok, Koliganek, New Stuyahok, and Dillingham. In each village, EPA representatives met with community members-and got a little taste of local life.

The group, which included EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson's senior policy advisor as well as representatives from EPA's Seattle based Region 10, had traveled to gather input for their assessment of whether large development projects will have unacceptable impacts on fish populations of the Kvichak and Nushagak river drainage-and ultimately, on the salmon fisheries of Bristol Bay. Assessment lead manager Richard Parkin explained the group was interested in answers to questions such as "If [the Bristol Bay watershed] is an extraordinary resource, what is it that makes it so?"

Responses from the communities ranged from comments about EPA's use of traditional ecological knowledge (TEK), to stories of the just-starting fish-run, details on what subsistence foods residents eat, and an invite to see a local smokehouse. Recurring themes included the community's dependence on subsistence, the expense of having food items shipped in versus depending on local resources (gas is now $6.75/gallon locally), and the importance of clean water to maintaining this lifestyle.

Another question from the EPA representatives was why some communities and tribal entities had asked EPA to use the 404c process to limit or prevent discharge from the Pebble project. The group expects to have a decision on whether to take that or another action "by next summer," Parkin said.

Also in attendance was BBNC President Jason Metrokin, who delivered BBNC's message that the science bears out that Pebble mine and the fishery cannot coexist. He shared copies of the June issue of the Pebble Watch newsletter. While thanking EPA for its sensitivity in reaching out to the Tribes, he also informed the group that BBNC is also recognized by some federal agencies as a Tribal entity, and as a landowner would welcome the same level of involvement in this process.

The EPA, in conjunction with Alaska Department of Natural Resources, also conducted mining information sessions in Newhalen and Dillingham, covering the topics of Mining Fundamentals, Environmental Concerns & Issues, Agencies & Regulatory Process, and How Tribes Can Be Involved. These presentations are available at EPA's Bristol Bay web site.

Pebble Watch team members attended both community visits and mining information sessions. An overview will appear in the next issue of the Pebble Watch newsletter.

Yup'ik interpreter provides translations as community members participate in an EPA community forum in New Stuyahok, Alaska, June 2, 2011.

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14 June 2011

Do You Have Questions about EPA's watershed assessment or mining permitting?

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has posted a list of frequently asked questions regarding its Bristol Bay watershed assessment. Questions cover topics such as EPA's role, mining, and public involvement. Questions that aren't already listed may be sent to: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

The EPA also posted documents from its recent mining information sessions in Newhalen and Dillingham.  These include: Mining Fundamentals, Environmental Concerns & Issues, Agencies & Regulatory Process, and How Tribes Can Be Involved.

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13 June 2011

Pebble Mine in the News: June 13

To help keep readers up-to-date, Pebble Watch offers regular roundups of news articles related to the proposed Pebble Mine. Following are stories that have recently appeared in local and national publications.

"Pebble again on the ballot - for now - in Lake & Pen Borough" (June 10, 2011 - Alaska Journal of Commerce)
Another ballot battle over Pebble mine is brewing. The "Save Our Salmon" initiative was certified May 30 to be placed on the Lake and Peninsula Borough ballot this October after initiative backers turned in a petition claiming more than 300 signatures, well above the required amount and comparable to the 384 total votes counted in the October 2010 borough elections. Read the entire article at the Alaska Journal of Commerce.

"EPA hears out Bristol Bay residents on mining prospect" (June 8, 2011 - The Bristol Bay Times)
Federal officials weighing potential restrictions on large-scale mining ventures in the Bristol Bay got an earful this past week in Dillingham from commercial, subsistence and sport fishermen concerned about adverse environmental effects of mining. Read the entire article at The Bristol Bay Times.

"British Ambassador visits Sitka" (June 7, 2011 - KCAW FM 90.1, Sitka)
During his Tuesday visit, Sir Nigel Sheinwald attended a Rotary Club lunch and toured popular attractions, including Castle Hill and Sitka National Historical Park. But the bulk of Sheinwald's Alaska trip on the United Kingdom's connections to Alaska: political and commercial. That includes the proposed Pebble Mine in Southwest Alaska. Read the article at KCAW.org or listen to the entire interview.

"That's not for us, say Alaskans after seeing Bingham mine" (June 6, 2011 - Salt Lake Tribune)
Several Alaskans from the salmon-dependent Bristol Bay region toured Utah's Bingham Canyon Mine on Monday for a look at the kind of tourist attraction they hope never to see back home. Read the entire article at the Salt Lake Tribune. Read the entire article at the Salt Lake Tribune.

"EPA officials visit Dillingham for Watershed Assessment meeting" (June 5, 2011 - KDLG AM/FM public radio, Dillingham)
Senior EPA officials were in Dillingham last Friday to give an update on the Bristol Bay Watershed Assessment. The public meeting is an early stage in the agency's assessment of the watershed and the potential impact of large-scale development on water quality and regional fisheries. Commercial, subsistence and sport fishermen, as well as year-round Nushagak river residents, made two hours worth of public statements on the possible impacts of the proposed Pebble Mine project that would be situated close to the river's headwaters. Listen to or download the entire audio clip at KDLG online. (5:33 minutes)

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07 June 2011

June issue of Pebble Watch newsletter

The June issue of the Pebble Watch newsletter explores issues surrounding groundwater hydrology, including the hydrologic cycle, groundwater modeling, how groundwater and surface water interact, and an overview of the Pebble Partnership’s data releases: “Report Series C: Surficial Geology" and "Report Series D: Groundwater Hydrology."

 0611_pebblewatchjune_web-1 (PDF 715 Kb)

Note: This represents an updated version that corrects a caption to the photo on page three. The printed version of this newsletter references the photo as depicting Upper Talarik Creek. In fact, the photo was taken in the Upper Talarik watershed.

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03 June 2011

EPA Mining Information Session, Dillingham

Environmental Protection Agency Region 10 mining information session in Dillingham. EPA is holding the sessions June 2 in Iliamna and June 3 in Dillingham. No further information on presenters, format or timing is available at this time.

The meetings relate to the EPA's scientific assessment of the Bristol Bay watershed. For more information, see earlier postings: "EPA meetings set for June in Iliamna, Dillingham" and "EPA to review proposed Pebble Mine project for water quality issues".

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02 June 2011

EPA Mining Information Session, Iliamna

Environmental Protection Agency Region 10 mining information session in Iliamna. EPA is holding the sessions June 2 in Iliamna and June 3 in Dillingham. No further information on presenters, format or timing is available at this time.

The meetings relate to the EPA's scientific assessment of the Bristol Bay watershed. For more information, see earlier postings: "EPA meetings set for June in Iliamna, Dillingham" and "EPA to review proposed Pebble Mine project for water quality issues".

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Nushagak River Community Visits

EPA plans community visits

Representatives from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) will visit the Bristol Bay area in mid-May and early June. They will be available to speak with community members in Kokhanok, Newhalen, Ekwok, Koliganek, and other villages on the Nushagak River.

EPA representatives will travel by boat up the Nushagak River to Ekwok, Koliganek, and other villages to listen to concerns and answer questions.

For more information about these meetings, call Richard Parkin at 206-553-8574 or email him at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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