Hecla Greens Creek Mining Company DSEIS Released

Written by Lauren Cusimano

March 23, 2023

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
March 23, 2023
Juneau, Alaska/Áakʼw Ḵwáan Territory
Contact: Aaron Brakel, 907-321-4393, Lauren Cusimano, 907-586-6942 ext. 208 

Hecla Greens Creek Mining Company DSEIS Released
A public open house is scheduled for April 12. Written comments will be accepted for 45 days. The outcome will play a huge role in how the mine operates and how impacts on Admiralty Island National Monument are handled.

JUNEAU, Alaska (Áakʼw Ḵwáan Territory) — The Hecla Greens Creek Mining Company tailings expansion draft supplemental environmental impact statement (DSEIS) was released on Thursday, March 23. A public open house is scheduled for April 12 in Juneau. A second meeting may be held in Angoon. Written comments will be accepted for 45 days following the date of publication of the Notice of Availability of the DSEIS in the Federal Register.

This is a key public process. The outcome will play a huge role in how the mine operates and how impacts on the adjacent Hawk Inlet, Admiralty Island National Monument, and wildlife and subsistence are handled. The communities of Angoon, Hoonah, and Juneau rely on Hawk Inlet and surrounding waters for food gathering. 

“At Southeast Alaska Conservation Council, we believe that there are significant environmental impacts from the Greens Creek Mine that need to be dealt with now in this DSEIS,” says Aaron Brakel, SEACC’s Inside Passage Waters Program Manager. “We will be taking a hard look to ensure the United States Forest Service’s public process deals with the full impacts of the mine on the Admiralty Island National Monument and on Hawk Inlet.”

A recently released Friends of Admiralty Island clam shell study shows a mine-related increase in lead in the marine environment in Hawk Inlet. Also, in 2022, anadromous waters of Tributary Creek (adjacent to Greens Creek’s tailings pile) were recommended for listing as impaired by the State of Alaska because of elevated lead levels. Serious concerns about fugitive dust from the tailings pile have been raised for over a decade, and these recent developments further show that the impacts from the mine must be fully and properly identified.

“As Southeast Alaska’s regional conservation organization and environmental watchdog, we are honored to work together with the public and folks like the good people at Friends of Admiralty Island to safeguard this place so that its health and bounty may long endure,” Brakel says.

Greens Creek is proposing to extend the existing dry-stack tailings disposal facility and incorporate waste rock co-disposal techniques in a northward direction for additional tailings and waste rock storage capacity. It is the only U.S. mine allowed to operate in a national monument as it was grandfathered in when the monument was created in 1978. However, the mine must continually demonstrate that it is not causing “irreparable harm.” Greens Creek opened in 1989 and has twice previously expanded its tailings disposal area. See more information here.

SEACC is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization based in Juneau, serving Southeast Alaska. For more information, contact Aaron Brakel at aaron@seacc.org or 907-321-4393.

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