Sunday, February 05, 2017

January 4, 2017
Bu Lisa Demer

Two mining executives (click here) from Australia accused of polluting a salmon stream in far Western Alaska remain fugitives and only they know what, if anything, remains of the platinum mining company they once headed, federal prosecutors say in a new court filing.

The government is proposing to dismiss criminal charges against XS Platinum Inc. while extradition proceedings continue against its executives, Bruce Butcher and Mark Balfour.

"The United States has been unable to find any indication that the corporation continues to exist," prosecutors said in a motion filed Wednesday in U.S. District Court to dismiss charges against the company.

XS Platinum and five company officials were indicted in November 2014 on charges of conspiring to violate the federal Clean Water Act and of falsifying compliance reports to the government....

Adult salmon swim upstream (click here) to the same area where they hatched. This is thought to be accomplished by their outstanding sense of smell that 'imprinted' the smell of their natal stream on their brain at birth. This journey may be only a few hundred yards or over two thousand miles depending on the species and the stream...

Description: Mine Operator Convicted Of Clean Water Act Crimes. (click here)

U.S. Attorney Karen L. Loeffler announced that James Slade, 57, of Calgary, Canada, was convicted after a two week jury trial of two counts of violating the Federal Clean Water Act by polluting the Salmon River with turbid waste water from the Platinum Creek Mine he was in charge of operating. A sentencing hearing is scheduled for November 12, 2015, and Mr. Slade was ordered to surrender his Canadian passport and remain in the United States pending his sentencing.

Evidence was presented at trial that the discharges from the mine were hundreds of times over the legal limits set in the National Pollution Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) water quality permit issued for the mine. The jury deliberated for two days before convicting the defendant of two misdemeanor Clean Water Act crimes for discharging polluted wastewater during the 2010 and 2011 mining seasons in violation of the NPDES permit. The jury was deadlocked and could not reach a decision on several felony violations, and found the defendant not guilty on other charges, including finding him not guilty of making a false annual report to the Alaska Department of Conservation that was submitted by another senior manager. That manager, Robert Pate, has previously pleaded guilty to making that false statement.

The Salmon River is located in Western Alaska, running past the Platinum Creek Mine and emptying into Kuskokwim Bay. It passes through the Togiak National Wildlife Refuge before entering the bay, and all five species of Alaska Salmon spawn in the river....

No spawning, no fish.

...Evidence at trial was that a flow of up to 1200 gallons per minute of wastewater was discharged from the mine’s processing plant into one or more settling ponds that were not lined, and that did not contain the wastewater. Instead, the wastewater flowed out of the ponds and into the Salmon River, turning it from crystal clear to dirty brown....

Fisheries are vital to any country, however, the coast line of the United States has been plagued with mining and/or petroleum pollution. The American taxpayer invests in understanding these habitats and protecting them for the meals they put on the American table. 

Alaskan Salmon are important and their protection from toxins of any kind is vital.

This chapter (click here) is organized broadly into background information and outstanding questions on the physical environment of Arctic-Yukon-Kuskokwim (AYK) salmon; their population structure and life cycle; their ecological interactions throughout the life cycle; and the human dimension including population trends and resource use, legal and policy analysis, and restoration opportunities. It ends with a discussion of the importance of including traditional ecological knowledge in research on AYK salmon, along with strategies for achieving that goal. We have attempted to identify questions of most interest to scientists and stakeholders. Many of these questions emerged from site visits to AYK communities in 2003 and 2004 and from the workshop held in Anchorage in November 2003....