Haines, thank you for speaking up to protect our home!

Written by Shannon Donahue

April 14, 2022

Recently, we’ve been asking you to weigh in with the Haines Borough Assembly and Planning Commission to voice your opposition to developing Lutak Dock into an industrial shipping facility. The biggest issue at hand has been pressure from the Yukon mines for an ore terminal, and Haines Borough staff and Ports and Harbors Committee’s eagerness to ensure that Phase 3 development serves their needs. Borough officials have bent over backward to tell us that Phase 3 has nothing to do with ore, but recordings from the March 24 Ports and Harbors Committee meeting demonstrate otherwise.

Thank you for speaking up! Between the two most recent Borough meetings, our local residents have said a resounding NO to ore transport and industrial-scale shipping through Lutak Inlet. This is truly an amazing and special community.

Sadly, despite 73 public comments against Phase 3 development, versus six in favor, and numerous requests to slow down the process and hold public meetings, the Haines Borough Assembly voted 5-1 in favor of racing ahead to advance permitting and design for Phase 3.

This was even after Planning Commissioner Rob Goldberg withdrew his prior support for Phase 3 and requested a reconsideration of the Commission’s vote to recommend Phase 3 permitting to the Assembly, on the grounds that the Planning Commission was presented with misleading information.

Please take a moment to thank Planning Commissioner Goldberg for taking the time to listen to the recording of the Ports & Harbors meeting and having the courage to correct the Planning Commission’s action. We can also thank Planning Commissioner Nik LaCroix for being the sole commissioner to vote against Phase 3 permitting. And while you’re at it, please thank Assembly Member Tyler Huling for having the courage to represent our community as the Assembly’s sole NO vote.

In addition to the Haines Borough’s eagerness to serve Yukon mines, the mere fact of the Borough’s pouring millions of dollars into developing this industrial shipping dock indicates that Phase 3 will dramatically increase shipping and truck traffic through the Chilkat Valley and Lutak Inlet.

We may stave off ore transport for a little while, but conventional wisdom tells us that expensive shipping facilities are not developed just to provide a backup for the existing freight ramp that facilitates the once-per-week barge that brings in our groceries, and our monthly fuel barge. To invest tens of millions of dollars into dock development, there must be a return, in the form of an industrial-scale shipping facility. Some of this cargo may be innocuous, much of it could be hazardous, and either way, Phase 3 development will inevitably result in Lutak Inlet and the Chilkat Valley becoming an industrial transportation corridor.

If you’re just catching up on the Borough’s whirlwind rush to develop Phase 3, you can click here to listen to the clips from the March 24 Ports and Harbors meeting where the committee and Borough staff eagerly accommodate the desires of the Yukon mining industry. You can catch up on the recent developments through the Chilkat Valley News story, and KHNS-FM’s coverage of the recent Planning Commission and Borough Assembly meetings.

Meanwhile, just hours after the Assembly voted to advance Phase 3, Constantine Metal Resources announced that their joint venture partner DOWA, who now holds the controlling interest in the Palmer Project, had pumped $18 million into their 2022 field season. This summer, Constantine plans to finish the road to the exploration site, build a man camp for 50 to 60 employees, drill more holes, and begin construction of wastewater discharge infrastructure to handle the toxic wastewater they will encounter once they start digging the underground tunnel.

The Palmer Project does not yet have a discharge permit for this system, thanks to SEACC and our partners’ successful challenge of the bogus permit the Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation awarded them in 2019. That permit would have allowed the Palmer Project to inject dirty wastewater into the ground next to Glacier, Waterfall, and Hangover creeks — tributaries of the Chilkat and Klehini rivers.

Constantine and DOWA’s accelerated exploration program adds pressure to develop Lutak Dock into an ore terminal and calls for us to stand up against the development of a mine and ore terminal in our beloved home. Click here to take action against the Palmer Project.

And stay tuned for additional upcoming actions to protect our home from mineral exploration and industrial ore transport!

Thank you,
Shannon Donahue, Upper Lynn Canal Organizer

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