BREAKING NEWS: Showdown on Maury Island Over Proposed Huge Gravel Pit Mine!
PRESS RELEASE: Maligiaq will be in Pacific Northwest in April 2009

Kayakers Stopped the Proposed Maury Island Gravel Pit Mine!


An article published on the front page of the Tacoma News Tribune today says that the mining company Glacier Northwest ran out of time yesterday to build the new dock that was going to serve their proposed gravel pit mine on Maury Island. The gravel pit mine is located 2 nm right across East Passage from where I live on Dash Point. Local island residents are concerned that the mining in the area could contaminate their water supply with arsenic that was deposited all over the Tacoma area by the old ASARCO smelter decades ago.

According to their permit, construction needed to stop on January 14th and could not resume until August 15 in order to protect spawning herring and migrating salmon. The dock supposedly is "90% done" and they were only a day short of completing it.  Some of that delay might have been due to the protesters who chained themselves across the road leading to the construction site and took to the water in kayaks: 

Opponents, some of whom have fought the gravel mining and transport project for more than a decade, have resorted to civil disobedience during the past month, chaining themselves together to block construction access. On Tuesday and Wednesday, they launched a flotilla of kayaks to get in the way of cranes and pile drivers. Glacier Northwest was forced to halt pile-driving to avoid injuring the protesters. “They were trying to maneuver themselves under the crane,” Stoltz said. “We couldn’t proceed safely with them trying to get into harm’s way.”

Of course Glacier Northwest won't admit that protesters contributed at all to the construction delay. Instead they are blaming the weather. 



Glacier Northwest is also implying that the protesters are doing more harm to the environment than the mine is, specifically by trampling on lance eggs on the beach. The News Tribune of course gives them plenty of opportunity to spew this ridiculous propaganda.  It's right out of the corporate playbook, along with characterizing protesters as "ecoterrorist" bums who can't hold down jobs, and scaring people into thinking that jobs will be lost and the local economy will suffer if Glacier can't mine there. The ultimate spin of course is to turn the the environmental issue around completely: they say that shipping gravel all the way from Canada will leave a much bigger carbon footprint than mining it here, so actually the mine is good for the environment!
I paddled over to the gravel pit mine this afternoon to see for myself.  They are actually still hard at work: only the work underwater must cease during the January 14 - August 15 period.  They will likely continue to built everything that they can above water and on land in the meantime. 
By the way, I also have issue with the title of the News Tribune article, "Battle Over Maury Island Gravel Mine Suspended". The pile driving may have stopped but I'm sure the battle is going to continue. This several months delay might allow time for legal action that will stop the mine completely.


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