EPA Releases Final Assessment of Bristol Bay Watershed

Jan 15, 2014

The EPA's Region 10 office published the final assessment online Wednesday, but the agency declined to issue any regulatory decisions at this time.

posted at 11:00 a.m. Wednesday, tune in at 1206 p.m. for the latest, and check back for updates.

The Environmental Protection Agency's Region 10 office in Seattle published a long awaited document that may impact the future of hard rock mining in the Bristol Bay watershed.

The assessment, which took three years to complete, will be used as a "technical resource" for governments, tribes, and the public, according to the EPA, to determine whether or not mining and the region's unique salmon resource can co-exist.

The report concludes, in no uncertain terms, that "large-scale mining poses risks to salmon and the tribal communities that have depended on them for thousands of years."  Read the document here.

EPA Region 10 Administrator Dennis McLerran held a press conference Wednesday morning to discuss the details of the assessment. McLerran touted the agency's "open and transparent" process, which included receiving over a million public comments, and the agency's successful efforts to engage and cooperate with the Alaska Native tribes that requested the study.

McLerran said that Obama administration has not made a regulatory decision concerning mining in Bristol Bay, but will use the assessment's findings if such a determination is made in the future.