‘Smoke and mirrors’: Indigenous groups, conservationists challenge report claiming B.C. mines have no impact on Alaska waters

The Narwhal

Frederick Olsen Junior does not mince words when describing a joint B.C.-Alaska government report on water quality in rivers that originate in northwest B.C. and flow into Southeast Alaska.

“Smoke and mirrors. Lip service. Box-checking,” said Olsen, who is executive director of the Southeast Alaska Indigenous Transboundary Commission, a consortium of 15 tribal nations dedicated to protecting rivers.

The governments of B.C. and Alaska formed a bilateral working group four years ago, after  decades of concerns about the effects of runoff from working and abandoned B.C. mines in the Stikine, Taku and Unuk watersheds. The group includes representatives from government agencies, Indigenous nations and industry. For two years, the group sampled and studied water, sediment, fish and other aquatic life from the three rivers to come up with baseline data and figure out whether or not the rivers and aquatic life are at risk.

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