Troopers: Arsonist set $10,000 of Pebble Partnership property ablaze in Iliamna

Michelle Theriault Boots

An arsonist destroyed $10,000 worth of industrial containers belonging to the Pebble Partnership at its incinerator site in Iliamna, the Alaska State Troopers said.

Troopers say they don't yet know who is responsible for the vandalism.

The Pebble project has been a contentious issue in the Bristol Bay region, dividing people who support development of the proposed large-scale copper and gold mine and those who say it could irreparably harm the ecosystem, which produces the largest sockeye salmon fishery in the world.

"Pebble is highly controversial matter," said King Salmon-based trooper Daniel Blizzard.

But this is the first time Pebble facilities have been the target of vandalism, according to Pebble Partnership spokesman Mike Heatwole.

Pebble staff in Iliamna discovered the fire on Feb. 1. It took a few days for Pebble to get a hold of the trooper in King Salmon and report the arson, Heatwole said.

Ten large plastic containers -- the type usually used to store fish products in canneries -- were destroyed in the blaze.

Pebble usually uses them to store food waste headed to the incinerator, Heatwole said.

"Nine were empty," Blizzard said. "One was holding ash cleaned from incinerator."

The Pebble Partnership valued them at $1,000 each.

"All there is left is just melted plastic on the ground," Blizzard said.

The totes had been lined up against a chain link fence at an incinerator site leased by Pebble and located near the Iliamna city dump.

"It looks like there was some type of accelerant put on the totes from the other side of the fence," said Blizzard.

Pebble keeps an operations base in Iliamna for ongoing work in the area.

The incinerator is meant to minimize the burden on the local landfill and dump, Heatwole said.

Troopers say an investigation is ongoing.

Reach Michelle Theriault Boots at or 257-4344.