Re Telsequah Chief Mine Proposal - PDF by jzi65410


									                             JOSEPH W. GELDHOF
                                           Attorney at Law
                                             229 4th Street
                                         Juneau, Alaska 99801
                                         FAX: (907)586-8216
                                       E mail:

                           VIA E MAIL: <>

November 30, 2001

Judith Carder
Environmental Assessment Office
P.O. Box 9426 Stn Prov Govt
Victoria, British Columbia V8W 9V1

                                 Re: Telsequah Chief Mine Proposal

Dear Ms. Carder:

I am writing with respect to the proposed re-opening of the Telsequah Chief Mine. I have a number of
concerns about the proposal and how the re-opening will impact the entire Taku River watershed.
Obviously any detrimental impact on fisheries resources, be they commercial, subsistence or sport must
be addressed.

The impact of re-opening the mine on the Taku River Tlingit people is also a major concern. As counsel
for a Native tribe on the United States side of the border, I have grown weary of watching corporations
based in New York, Toronto or other "outside" locations drop into remote areas, promise the local
Natives everything will be just great with some economic deal and then not deliver the goods. In too
many of these situations, the local Natives are left with a degraded watershed or geographical area when
the development deal winds down and not much to show for all the activity. Accordingly, it would be
great if the interests and concerns of the Taku River Tlingit were given paramount consideration, instead
of the usual lip-service.

The single biggest impact that stems from this proposal is the road. Obviously building a major new road
in an unroaded area is going to dramatically change the character of the Taku River drainage and not
obviously for the better. While the existing and potential problems with mine tailing wastes can and must
be dealt with in a responsible manner, the impact of a new road presents gigantic problems that warrant
new thinking on access to the mine. Actually, what is needed is not new thinking as some creative
thinking based on historic practices at the mine. As you undoubtedly know, the original Telsequah Chief
Mine was serviced and ore delivered via barges on the Taku River. Modern tug technology and a modest
fleet of purpose built barges hold much promise for access to the mine site (or to a location on the Taku
River in close proximity to the mine), without need to build a road is assured. All the materials necessary
for the mining activity could be transported up the river and the ore could be shipped down to tidewater
for transshipment to resource consumers under a marine access option.

I am certainly aware of the reflexive response on the part of select officials in my country that panned the
idea of using marine transportation to service the Telsequah Chief Mine. In the past, concerns were
raised about impacts barge traffic might have on fisheries and a decision was made to oppose barge
traffic as a possibility. The fact of the matter is that barge and tug access to the region avoids the prospect
of roading a prime salmon habit area with all the attendant problems that roads imply. The historic access
to the mine via a water route coupled with significant increases in marine tug and barge technology since
the mine stopped operating in the 1950's all warrant an honest, objective look at access via a marine

Raising the issue of marine access at this point in the project review process may strike you as the
proverbial 13th stroke of the clock, that is, too late and sort of odd. I can well understand the desire of the
mining proponents to get on with this entire matter and start building a road into the heart of the Taku
River watershed. Still, it is prudent based on history, common sense and readily available technology to
evaluate whether marine access is technologically feasible and whether such access could take place in a
cost efficient manner while protecting the stunning natural resources of this wonderful region. It certainly
is not so late in this process that we could not take a hard look at accessing the mine in a manner that is
already validated by history.

Please call or write if I can answer any questions you have about this matter.


Joseph W. Geldhof

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