Native Village of Elim Alaska Fights Uranium Mine


Native Village of Elim Alaska Fights Uranium Mine

The Native Village of Elim which is a small coastal traditional fishing community near Nome Alaska (Village), which does not have the funds to hire private legal council, has asked CWA to assist it in opposing a massive uranium mine proposal that would be owned and operated by the Triex Corporation. The mining site, known as “Boulder Creek” is located on the Seward Peninsula in northwestern Alaska approximately 31 miles from the Village of Elim, and 106 miles from Nome. The Tubuktulik River, upon which the Village is dependent for a major portion of its subsistence fishing, flows through the mining site. Toxic materials coming off of the mine cite would directly impact fishery habitat in the River along with the Village’s subsistence needs and traditional and cultural practices.

Triex has already completed approximately 3,000 meters of core drilling split evenly between Boulder Creek and McCarthy Marsh area of the Peninsula. According to Triex, as a result of these holes “favourable host rocks were intersected and” the company intends to perform additional drill testing based in 2008. While Triex held a public meeting for its first phase of the exploration, neither the Corporation nor the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), who manages some of the land where the exploration is taking place, provided the Village or any other member of the public an opportunity to comment on the current, second phase of exploration.

In addition, due to the recent increases in the price of uranium and Triex’s discovery of “favorable” mining potential for the Boulder Creek-Death Valley area, it is clear that the Boulder Creek mine is just the beginning of intense mining activity and associated cultural and environmental impacts not only for the Village but for additional Native Communities located on or near the Peninsula. The “Boulder Creek–Death Valley” area, for example, includes 106 state mining claims and 11federal mining claims that cover an area of 6,864 hectares and the “McCarthys Marsh” property, alone consists of a block of 76 state mining claims that cover an area of 4,921 hectares.

Further, the BLM’s failure to provide proper notice and comment for that portion of the exploration and proposed mine located on federal lands likely violates the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) and the proposed exploration potentially violates state laws including Title 38, Chapter 5 of the Alaska Statutes and the Alaska Coastal Management Plan's habitat standard. The Village has asked CWA to file litigation on the Villages behalf and possibly other affected Native communities in federal and/or state court and ask for a temporary restraining order to stop ongoing exploration.