By BECKY BOHRER
JUNEAU, Alaska (AP) â¿¿ Build-out of a large-scale mine near the headwaters of a world-class salmon fishery in Alaska could wipe out as many as 90 miles of streams and alter stream flows, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency said in a revised assessment released Friday.
The report said mining activity would claim at least 24 miles of streams in the Bristol Bay region, based on the scenarios evaluated, with the loss of wetlands ranging from 1,200 to 4,800 acres.
The EPA focused on the Pebble deposit and took into account information related to the proposed Pebble Mine but also noted the potential for multiple mines in the region, given the resource base, which it said would lead to further elimination or blocking of streams and wetland losses.
EPA initiated the review process in response to concerns raised by tribes and others about the impact large-scale mining could have on Bristol Bay fisheries. Critics of the EPA review â¿¿ including the Pebble Limited Partnership, the group behind the proposed Pebble Mine â¿¿ fear it could lead to the agency vetoing mining activity in the region.
Pebble Partnership CEO John Shively said the review was unnecessary, flawed and "consistent with the demands of those who want to deny the Pebble Partnership the right to submit a permit application."
The Alaska Department of Law also issued a statement.
"We believe the assessment is premature, as well as any action EPA might take based upon it," the state agency said. "Any consideration of impacts should be made within the context of an actual proposal and a Clean Water Act Section 404 permit application."
The Pebble Partnership has called the mine deposit one of the largest of its kind in the world, with the potential of producing 80.6 billion pounds of copper, 107.4 million ounces of gold and 5.6 billion pounds of molybdenum over decades.