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Angoon officials worry about mercury in subsistence foods

  • Author: Associated Press
  • Updated: September 28, 2016
  • Published February 7, 2016

JUNEAU -- The city and tribal government of Angoon want state health officials to look into mercury levels in seals and other subsistence foods near Hawk Inlet.

Angoon officials warned residents to stop gathering traditional foods from west Admiralty Island, KTOO-FM reported.

The state of Alaska and U.S. Forest Service have determined Hawk Inlet is healthy.

Researchers did detect high mercury levels in a seal that was shared in the village, as well as toxic metals in seaweed, clams, mussels, shrimp, cockles and crab.

Angoon officials worry the mercury is tied to Hecla's Greens Creek Mine.

"I understand that the mine is important to a lot of people for jobs and revenue into the City and Borough of Juneau, but there's also a responsibility to the community health," tribal president and city Mayor Albert Howard said. "And what I meant by that is the city council and the tribal council understand the importance of the community's health and our children."

Greens Creek spokesman Mike Satre says the mine monitors discharge year-round and issues an annual report, among other efforts.

"We meet all the permitted conditions that are put on us by the state for the discharge of our water into Hawk Inlet," Satre said.

Angoon officials have asked the state to determine the impact of any elevated metals in Hawk Inlet on the ecosystem, if its wild foods are safe to consume and find the source of elevated metals in subsistence foods harvested from the area.

They also want steps taken to protect consumers, mitigate hazards as well as a study on the mine's ecological impact.

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