EPA recommends protections for Bristol Bay
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Region 10 Administrator Casey Sixkiller has recommended that the agency prohibit and restrict certain waters in the Bristol Bay watershed from activities associated with developing the Pebble mine.
The Recommended Determination is the latest action in the Clean Water Act 404(c) process that began in 2014.
According to an EPA press release, the agency evaluated “an extensive record, including scientific and technical information covering nearly two decades.” The agency also considered public comments received on the 2022 Proposed Determination. Based on that review, EPA Region 10 determined that discharges of dredge and fill materials associated with Pebble mine development “would be likely to result in unacceptable adverse effects on salmon fishery areas in the South Fork Koktuli River, North Fork Koktuli River, and Upper Talarik Creek watersheds of Bristol Bay.”
Sixkiller has submitted the 385-page Recommended Determination to EPA’s Office of Water Assistant Administrator Radhika Fox. The agency will review the Recommended Determination and any information provided by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the Pebble Limited Partnership related to plans for preventing unacceptable adverse effects. According to the 404(c) timeline, that review should be completed within 60 days, although it can take longer. Fox will also consult with the affected party, PLP, and the land owner, the State of Alaska. When that review is complete, the EPA will issue a Final Determination affirming, modifying or rescinding the Proposed Determination.