Review of Bristol Bay assessment on tap for meeting

Mike Dunham

If you want to attend the Environmental Protection Agency's meeting of scientists evaluating the agency's assessment of mining effects on Bristol Bay salmon, you'll have to do it by Internet. The meeting in the third-floor ballroom of the Dena'ina Center starts Tuesday.

Spokespersons for EPA Region 10 confirmed that anyone wanting to address the scientific panel must have registered by July 23. If space is available, people who register at the door on Tuesday or Wednesday may be allowed to observe, but not speak.

The public proceedings Tuesday and Wednesday will be webcast.

The meeting will present a review of the EPA's draft Bristol Bay Watershed Assessment by experts not involved in drafting it. The assessment, which considers the impact of large-scale mining on the area's waters and fish habitat, has been evaluated by 12 scientists. The panel was assembled by an independent contractor from outside the agency, to maintain objectivity, the EPA said. The contractor is Versar of Springfield, Va.

Over 100 people signed up to make comments to the scientific panel.

Starting at 8 a.m. on Wednesday, the panelists will present their findings in a series of discussions that will address individual issues such as the possibility of infrastructure failure in a mining operation, risks to fish, wildlife and people, and the cumulative risks of multiple mines.

Though political implications will certainly come up during the public comment portion, Samuel Snyder, director of the Bristol Bay Fisheries Protection Campaign for the Alaska Conservation Foundation, said he expects science to be stressed on the second day. "They'll try to keep it focused on the technical aspects," he said.

A third day of discussion by the panel will take place behind closed doors. Results will be made available at a later date.

Reach Mike Dunham at or 257-4332.

Online information

To access the presentations and discussion:

* On Tuesday, Aug. 7, go to: https://meet78228777.

* On Wednesday, Aug. 8, go to: https://meet78228777.

After accessing the link, select "Enter as a Guest," then enter your name in the "Name" field or leave it blank, then select "Enter Room."

Anchorage Daily News