State Department of Natural Resources Imposes Conditions on 18 Mining-Contaminated Sites
Juneau, Alaska (KINY) – The Department of Natural Resources announced plans to impose conditions on state-owned land at 18 sites to prevent the spread of historic mining contamination while not allowing the future mining only under specific protective conditions.
DNR Commissioner Corri Feige said the department had given 30 days’ notice of its intention to issue “tenant locator orders” covering potential future mining activities on approximately 4,600 state tidal acres. and submerged land in Southeast Alaska, Prince William Sound, and Southwest Alaska. , Commissioner of the DNR Corri Feige.
The affected tide and submerged lands were contaminated by mining or smelting activities, primarily on adjacent private and federal uplands, according to a ministry statement.
“While these sites are now gazetted for generally permitted uses such as hunting, food gathering or recreation, there may still be valid mining claims being mined, as well as minerals that may be of interest to future miners. “, Feige said. “Creating tenant locator orders for these lands allows us to put in place protections that will prevent the spread of historic contamination. This will benefit current and future users and facilitate cleanup efforts overseen by the Department of Environmental Conservation.
The ministry says the decision to issue the orders was inspired by the case of the Klag Bay gold mine, which left contamination after operating on private land on Chichagof Island from 1905 to 1942.
The contamination spread to submerged lands which became state land in 1959 and are the current site of some small-scale mining, as well as subsistence and recreational activities.
Richard Lessard, MNR’s Mining Property Management Section Chief, in conjunction with Patty Burns, MNR’s Statewide Degraded Lands Mitigation Section Chief, agrees that the Klag Bay mine site is one of many brownfields in Alaska where tenant locator orders could be beneficial. Many sites contain heavy metals such as lead, mercury or arsenic, which are regulated by the DEC.
Tenant location ordinances allow MNR to include stipulations in lease agreements requiring miners to take steps to prevent the release of historical contamination, even while conducting mining operations. Orders do not impact valid, existing mining claims. However, the orders notify existing claim holders of contamination at their claim sites, allowing them to take appropriate preventative action.
Feige pointed out that the contamination of the sites was caused by historic mining practices that are prohibited by modern state laws and regulations and would violate contemporary practices in the mining industry.