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VANCOUVER — Premier Christy Clark’s push for new mines in British Columbia is becoming mired in growing controversy.
On Wednesday, a delegation from Alaska was in Washington, D.C., to lobby the U.S. government concerning five proposed mines in northwest B.C. that are on watersheds draining into southeast Alaska. The delegation, representing 40 businesses, tribes, commercial fishing groups and environmentalists, claims the mines pose unacceptable risks to Alaska’s salmon fishery.
“We’re really worried about where this is going to go,” Brian Lynch, executive director of the Petersburg Vessel Owners Association said about the proposed development of the mines near the Alaska border.
Mr. Lynch said he’s worried because the B.C. government seems to be simultaneously fast-tracking several mines without providing adequate resources for environmental reviews. “I doubt any agency could handle that work load,” he said. “The money is just not there to do that kind of work – and that scares us.”
In a written statement, Mr. Lynch said the B.C. mines threaten “some of Alaska’s most prized salmon-producing rivers,” including the Taku, Stikine and Unuk.
He said Alaskans are worried about acidic waste-water leaching from the mine site, perhaps for hundreds of years.
In a statement, the B.C. Ministry of Environment said that, “No matter where we live, we all share a responsibility and commitment for the environment.” The government added that it is working with the U.S. and Alaska governments on transborder concerns.
Also on Wednesday, Taseko Mines Ltd. filed a second action with Federal Court seeking to overturn a decision by Ottawa that rejected the company’s New Prosperity Mine on environmental grounds. The company alleges Environment Minister Leona Aglukkaq and other officials held “inappropriate meetings with aboriginal opponents to the project during critical decision periods.”
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