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Alaska Mine Contaminating Kuskokwim River to be Addressed in 2014

By Dan Carpenter, Oil, Gas, Native Issues, Corporations and Subsistence Multimedia Reporter, dcarpenter@ktuu.com
Published On: Dec 31 2013 08:29:22 PM AKST
Updated On: Dec 31 2013 08:33:16 PM AKST

Alaska Mine Contaminating Kuskokwim River to be Addressed in 2014

ANCHORAGE -

The federal Bureau of Land Management is promising to address toxic minerals leaking into the Kuskokwim River from the old Red Devil Mine in the coming year.

The mercury production facility was in operation for 38 years before closing in 1971.

The Bureau of Land Management found that mercury, arsenic and antimony are eroding into Red Devil Creek and into the Kuskokwim river.

The federal agency says it will take early action in 2014 to prevent approximately 250,000 cubic yards of mine tailings from further contaminating the area.

“Simply by moving that stuff away from the water and preventing it from leaching and getting into the water that's the best way to do it,” said BLM Red Devil Mine Project Manager Mike McCrum.

Residents living down river from the mine say they're very concerned about the impacts to their health.

“Every preventative measure must be taken and you know and especially the drinking water issues,” said subsistence hunter and fisherman Mike Williams from Akiak.

BLM says multiple mines, and mineral deposits contribute chemicals to the river but it has not specifically looked at cancer risks down river from red devil mine.

More information about the cleanup plan for the sight will be presented by the BLM at the Alaska Forum on the Environment on February 3, 2014 at the Anchorage Dena'ina Center.