The Canadian mining company Tintina Alaska, Inc., wants to excavate a mile-long exploration tunnel near Sheep Creek, an important spawning tributary of the Smith River, to evaluate an ore body for a proposed copper mine. The problem is the ore body contains sulfides, so the discharge from the tunnel and the waste rock the project will generate has a good probability of creating acid-mine drainage - a nightmare impact that can be impossible to rectify and which has polluted trout streams and groundwater all over Montana.
The Montana Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) has issued a draft environmental analysis (EA) that purports to assess the impacts and "mitigate" for them. But it's a flawed document. It omits key data and relies on future, still-to-be-determined actions and monitoring that would occur only after a permit is issued for the exploration.
Write DEQ today and remind the agency how special the Smith River and its fishery are. Tell DEQ in your own words why it can't risk spoiling this gem by the type of mining that has ruined streams and groundwater across Montana.
Tell DEQ to:
- Prepare an Environmental Impact Statement on the proposal and disclose exactly what the quality of discharge will be at the project, and what treatment will be in place to deal with pollution.
- Require the company to have a modern water-treatment system in place before the tunnel is constructed and keep it going after the project is complete as long as pollution is present.
- Collect complete baseline information on fish and wildlife in the area and describe in detail how they'll be protected.
- Detail in the EIS the specifics of the reclamation bond it will require for the project so the public can comment on its adequacy. DEQ has a long record of approving inadequate bonds, requiring taxpayers to pay for cleaning up mining messes.
- Deny an exploration permit if the exploration work would result in treatment of polluted discharges in perpetuity.
Tell DEQ to protect the Smith River. It's the only one we have!
Send comments by Aug. 26 to:
Herb Rolfes, DEQ, P.O. Box 200901, Helena, MT 59620
For questions, contact Mark Aagenes at email@example.com
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