Dear transboundary river supporters,
First and foremost, we send our best wishes for your health and safety in these frightening times.
Even and especially in these times, however, our shared work to defend and sustain the waters, lands and salmon that give us life continues. Soon the salmon will return in force, and we continue to do all we can to ensure they return to clean, healthy transboundary rivers. We want to keep you in the loop, so here are some highlights from the first quarter of 2020.
In a new study, B.C.’s Chief Inspector of Mines found that B.C. taxpayers are on the hook for $1.2 billion in mine cleanup costs.
March 6, The Narwhal -- B.C. taxpayers on the hook for 1.2 billion in mine cleanup costs: chief inspector report
One of those liabilities is the abandoned Tulsequah Chief Mine, which has been contaminating the Taku River watershed for more than 60 years. In this opinion piece, former Taku River guide Patricia Thomson called for cleanup.
February 24, Vancouver Sun — Patricia Thomson: B.C. needs to follow through on its commitment to cleaning up the Tulsequah Chief
Alaska Senator Dan Sullivan called for the EPA to release its analysis of transboundary mines and how they endanger the U.S. He also highlighted the fact that the Tulsequah Chief “continues to spew toxic waste into the river,” and that “the Canadians won’t clean it up.”
March 11, YouTube — Sen. Dan Sullivan (R-AK) at a Senate Environment & Public Works hearing
The threat to U.S. rivers from B.C. is shared by Washington, Idaho, and Montana. This year, more and more people, organizations, lawmakers and Tribes have begun calling for protections for the Skagit River, which flows from B.C. into Washington, and which is threatened by Imperial Metals’ plan to mine in the “donut hole” between protected areas.
February 21, Crosscut — Tribes worry a Canadian mine could poison Washington salmon
February 25, Seattle Times — Opinion: Washington’s rivers, salmon and orcas need protection from Canadian mines
Cutthroat trout have been virtually wiped out in a tributary of the transboundary Elk-Kootenai River that runs through Teck Resources coal mines along the Canada/Montana border. That’s exactly what scientists predicted would happen if Teck was allowed to keep contaminating the river, but B.C. regulators allowed the pollution to continue.
March 8, National Post — Coal miner Teck says it’s baffled by fish collapse downstream of British Columbia mines
This insightful piece from two scientists delves into the threats mine waste dumps pose to the shared transboundary rivers of the Salmon Coast. Over the past 100 years, more than 300 mine waste dumps worldwide have failed — but even when they don’t fail, they harm people, wildlife, fish and rivers.
February 24, The Conversation — Mine waste dams threaten the environment even when they don’t fail
In fact, spurred by the 2019 failure of the Brumadinho mine waste dump in Brazil, which killed hundreds of people, the world’s first global database of mine waste dumps went live in January.
January 24, Mining.com — Global database of tailings dams goes live
In spite of those efforts, mine waste dump reviews are still weak, and toxic mine waste storage practices have not changed in the last 100 years, according to a study from the Responsible Mining Foundation.
April 7, Mining.com — Miners’ response to Brazil’s dam disaster still weak — report
Here on the border between Canada and the United States, there’s a clear solution for preventing and resolving disputes over shared waters: the International Joint Commission--as a new book makes clear about this body that was created by the U.S.-Canada Boundary Waters Treaty of 1909.
April 3, Spartan Newsroom — The secret savior of U.S. and Canada’s shared waters isn’t one person
Meanwhile, this Mining.com article used the Galore Creek mining project, planned for the Stikine River watershed, as a case study of poor decision-making, oversights, and underestimated risk.
April 10, Mining.com — Exploding costs: An analysis of Galore Creek
The struggle of the Wet’suwet’en land protectors is a stark portrayal of the colonialist, force-heavy policies supporting extractive industries that fail to honor Indigenous rights and title, in spite of B.C.’s ostensible commitment to the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. On April 30, the Wet’suwet’en Hereditary Chiefs and B.C. and Canadian governments jointly announced their new MOU to implement Wet’suwet’en rights and title, though the MOU reportedly doesn’t specifically address the pipeline issue.
February 13, Washington Post — Opinion: A pipeline offers a stark reminder of Canada’s ongoing colonialism
February 7, The Conversation — Wet’suwet’en: Why are Indigenous rights being defined by an energy corporation?
February 17, Policy Options — The breathtaking hypocrisy of the howls for rule of law
May 4, The Canadian Press - Wet’suwet’en agree to deal with government over rights and title
The COVID-19 pandemic is exposing bad practices and risks within transboundary mines. Miners say Teck Coal punishes miners who speak out about risks and shortcomings, including risks to their own health.
March 20, The Narwhal — B.C. mine workers fear Teck not taking adequate precautions against coronavirus
According to medical professionals, work camps and other resource extraction operations in B.C. pose huge risks to rural communities and the hundreds of people they confine in small spaces during the COVID-19 crisis. The Tahltan Nation closed their borders to protect the health of community members; however, miners continue to travel in and out of the work camps at Red Chris and Brucejack mines in Tahltan Territory.
March 31, The Narwhal -- Former chief medical officer urges B.C. to shut industrial work camps during coronavirus pandemic
April 23, Terrace Standard - Tahltan ask visitors to stay away from their territory during COVID-19
Finally, on May 1, 22 scientists and policy experts from multiple U.S. states and both sides of the international U.S./Canada border published a letter in the prestigious, peer-reviewed journal “Science.” The letter calls on the U.S. and Canadian federal governments to invoke the Boundary Waters Treaty and address the fact that B.C. mine assessments are not adequately based on defensible science nor adequately protect U.S.-B.C. transboundary waters from mining pollution.
May 1, KINY — International letter urges Canada, U.S. to jointly address British Columbia transboundary mining pollution
April 28, University of Montana — UM Researchers urge governments to address transboundary mining pollution
May 4, The Western News — Resisting status as ‘Canada’s settling pond’
As always, thank you for reading and please let me know if you have any questions regarding this issue! We are sending you all our best in these trying times.
Jill Weitz, Salmon Beyond Borders director
SALMON BEYOND BORDERS is a campaign driven by sport and commercial fishermen, community leaders, tourism and recreation business owners and concerned citizens, in collaboration with Tribes and First Nations, united across the Alaska/British Columbia border to defend and sustain our transboundary rivers, jobs and way of life.
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