As a member of the Shtax’heen Kwaan (Stikine Tribe) in Wrangell, I am frightened to think that what happened at Mount Polley could happen here in our back yard now that the Red Chris Mine is operational. That the fish we’ve relied on traditionally for thousands of years could be contaminated or disappear, that the local commercial fishing industry could be decimated, and that we could see the local businesses that rely on the industry close doors.
Neither the community of Wrangell or the Stikine Tribe were consulted in the years of planning and construction upstream. Tahltan Nation is receiving financial benefits, but the waste flows immediately out of their waters and into ours. If the tailings dams were to give way at Red Chris Mine, an entire community will be left to pick up the pieces of a puzzle that will never again be whole.
The Red Chris Mine is located on the Iskut River, the largest tributary in the Stikine headwaters. Red Chris is owned by Imperial Metals, the same company responsible for Mount Polley. Red Chris is a larger operation than its sister mine, and it has tailings that are much more toxic.
Since tailings dam permits became required in British Columbia, an average of two B.C. dams have failed every decade and independent reports predict that trend to continue. Wrangell does not want that failure to happen in our Stikine.
On Sunday, Aug. 2, the Wrangell Cooperative Association will host the Blessing of the Stikine, marking the one-year anniversary of the Mount Polley disaster. A procession through downtown Wrangell will kick off the ceremony at 1 p.m.
For the rest of this column, click here: http://juneauempire.com/opinion/2015-07-28/my-turn-one-year-after-disaster-mining-threats-remain