EPA: Alaska mine project could hurt salmon streams

The Mulchatna River lies at the heart of the Nushagak watershed. All five Pacific salmon species spawn in the Mulchatna and it's tributaries - which include the Koktuli and Stuyahok Rivers.

The Mulchatna River lies at the heart of the Nushagak watershed.
All five Pacific salmon species spawn in the Mulchatna and it’s tributaries – which include the Koktuli and Stuyahok Rivers. (Photo courtesy EPA)

A U.S. Environmental Protection Agency report says build-out of the large-scale Pebble mine near the headwaters of a world-class salmon fishery could wipe out as many as 90 miles of streams and alter stream flows.

The dark shadow in the river is actually thousands of sockeye salmon.

Salmon return in droves to Gibraltar Creek. The dark shadow in the river is actually thousands of sockeye salmon. (Photo courtesy of Thomas Quinn, University of Washington)

It 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.

EPA regional administrator Dennis McLerran said the revised report generally affirms conclusions reached in the initial report last year.

The revised assessment will undergo a new round of peer review and public comment before EPA releases a final report that could affect permitting decisions.

The group behind the proposed Pebble Mine project in Alaska is dismissing the report as unnecessary, flawed and consistent with demands from opponents of the project.

Read the report and submit your comments here.

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