Don’t trust B.C. on Tulsequah Chief Mine – by Chris Miller (Juneau Empire – March 11, 2017)

Chris Miller is a professional photographer, based in Juneau, who focuses on commercial fisheries.

In June 2010, I visited the Tulsequah Chief Mine to see what was being done to halt the acid mine drainage flowing into the Tulsequah River, the largest tributary to the transboundary Taku River, since mine owner Redfern went bankrupt in March 2009.

It was shocking to see the site, which sits right on the banks of the Tulsequah River, about 13 river miles upstream of the Alaska/British Columbia (B.C.) border and 40 miles northeast of Juneau, essentially abandoned and the orange acid mine drainage pooling up and draining into the Tulsequah River.

In 2013, I flew over the site and the highly toxic acid mine drainage was still flowing out of the mine and into the river. Chieftain Metals, which bought the mine after the Redfern bankruptcy proceedings in September 2010, was little more successful than Redfern in stopping the pollution.

And the B.C. government continued to do little to enforce any meaningful cleanup, hoping eventual mine development would somehow result in a halt to the pollution. After two bankruptcies, it seems clear the Tulsequah Chief simply isn’t a viable mine. The province needs to assume the responsibility for stopping the acid mine drainage and closing down the mine.

An end may be in sight, but only if Alaskans continue to pressure Canadians to protect our common interests in transboundary watersheds. B.C. Minister Bill Bennett has indicated the province may step in and clean up the mess. This is by no means assured and it will take continued attention and pressure to end the 60-year saga of the Tulsequah Chief.

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