(ANCHORAGE, May 20, 2009) — The crew of the F/V Northwestern and stars of The Deadliest Catch, America’s top-rated cable television show, are speaking out about a massive hard-rock mine that developers want to build in the heart of Alaska’s wild salmon country. The proposed mine, called Pebble, straddles the headwaters of the two of the world’s most productive salmon rivers. If developed, Pebble could be North America’s largest open-pit mine, generating 35 billion gallons of waste annually and exposing the Bristol Bay region to the risks of acid mine drainage and potentially catastrophic industrial accidents.
“We don’t mind crab fishing in the dead of winter in the Bering Sea. But there’s no way we’d take the risk of developing the Pebble mine. Putting the world’s largest earthen dam holding toxic waste right in the middle of the Bristol Bay watershed is one of the most bone-headed ideas we’ve ever heard of,” said Sig Hansen, captain of the F/V Northwestern, one of the fishing vessels featured on The Deadliest Catch, which airs on The Discovery Channel in over 150 countries.
“One earthquake, one leak, and we’d send a river of poison rushing down our best salmon streams, heading straight for Bristol Bay. Help us stop the Pebble mine before it becomes an Alaska disaster,” Hansen said.
Hansen and his crew voice their opposition to Pebble in a series of print and broadcast ads slated to air in Alaska and nationwide this summer. In separate interviews, Sig and crew called on Gov. Sarah Palin to stop the Pebble mine from proceeding.
“I’m no radical greenie. I support responsible resource development. That’s how I make my living. But in some cases, you have to draw the line. The Pebble mine is one of those projects and Sarah Palin, whose family fishes in Bristol Bay, ought to know that,” Hansen said.
The ads are funded by the Renewable Resources Coalition and Trout Unlimited Alaska, two conservation groups working to protect Bristol Bay, home to the world’s largest remaining wild salmon runs.
A consortium of mining companies called the Pebble Limited Partnership, led by London-based Anglo American, is aggressively moving ahead with plans to develop the huge copper and gold deposit, located on state-owned land, 250 miles southwest of Anchorage. The developers recently said that they plan to submit applications for mining permits within the next few months. In
addition to Pebble, Bristol Bay is also threatened by hard-rock mine leasing on millions of acres of federal land adjacent to the Pebble deposit.