"EPA Targets Contaminated Alaska Mines"

"An old mine on Prince of Wales Island will become Alaska's newest Superfund site, if the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has its way.

The Salt Chuck mine is one of two big contaminated mine sites on Southeast Alaska's Prince of Wales Island that state and federal agencies have known about for years but are just now starting to make progress.

Salt Chuck miners dumped much of their tailings, or ground-up waste rock, right into the intertidal zone. Now people go clamming, crabbing, camping and hiking there. The clams and mussels have been found with unhealthy amounts of arsenic, vanadium and copper. In areas with especially high metal levels, there aren't many clams or mussels, according to a Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation database of contaminated sites.

This month, the U.S. Forest Service received $1.4 million from the stimulus package to clean up Salt Chuck. "

Kate Golden reports for the Juneau Empire July 20, 2009.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009