How Alaska Mining Could Impact the Wild Salmon Population

By Paul Greenberg, "Minerals vs. Salmon," March/April 2012

In Alaska's Bristol Bay, the wild salmon fishery may be threatened by possible mining for copper and other minerals.

The potential impact of the mine on the Bristol Bay watershed is currently under review by the Environmental Protection Agency, which is expected to make a draft assessment available for comment in April. Potential risks to the fishery include the enormous amount of water needed for mining (a projected 35 billion gallons of water per year would be drawn from salmon streams), the billions of tons of tailings (stored in earthen dams in an earthquake-prone area) and acid drainage that even in tiny quantities could destroy a salmon's sense of smell and homing instinct.

The mine is not the only threat: the World Wildlife Fund and numerous other groups are petitioning to protect Bristol Bay from offshore drilling for oil and gas. At stake, says WWF, are fisheries generating $4.1 to $5.4 billion annually and 12,000 jobs. And one of our last abundant sources of truly wild food.

For more information, visit this site dedicated to saving Bristol Bay at

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