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Setting the record straight on Red Dog mine and the toxic release list

  • Author: Wayne Hall
    | Opinion
  • Updated: March 13
  • Published March 13

Every year the Environmental Protection Agency issues a list called the Toxic Release Inventory (TRI). And every year, the Red Dog Mine's ranking on this report is misrepresented by various commentators, casting our operation in a negative light. So I would like to take this opportunity to clarify what the TRI ranking actually means.

Since 1998, Red Dog has been required to report to the EPA the amount of rock and ore moved at the mine site. This is due to the very high naturally occurring mineral grade found there – which is also what makes Red Dog such a world-class zinc mine.

Under the TRI rules, all of the rock dug up and moved to different parts of the mining area must be reported to the EPA because of its natural mineral content – even though these materials don't actually leave the mine site. In fact, the word "release" in the TRI doesn't apply in the case of Red Dog as virtually none of the material is in fact "released."

In other words, Red Dog's high TRI ranking is simply a reflection of the large quantity of rock and other minerals we move within our operation and not an indication of any pollution or environmental impact.

In addition, all movement and storage of rock on the mine site is safely managed in specially engineered facilities and strictly regulated under state and federal permits and regulations.

At Red Dog Operations, we take our responsibility to ensure the environmental sustainability of our activities very seriously, and are consistently working to further improve our performance. The mine is a true made-in-Alaska success story, developed through an innovative operating agreement between Teck and NANA. It supports hundreds of jobs in Northwest Alaska and is a significant contributor to the economy in the region and state.

The true story of Red Dog isn't the inaccurate articles generated by the misleading TRI; it is the story of the opportunities the mine has helped create in the Northwest, and the strong environmental track record its employees have established together.

Wayne Hall is superintendent, environment and community relations for the Red Dog Mine. 

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