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Environmental Assessment

An Assessment of Potential Mining Impacts on Salmon Ecosystems of Bristol Bay, Alaska (Final Report)

Notice

EPA announces the availability of the final report, An Assessment of Potential Mining Impacts on Salmon Ecosystems of Bristol Bay, Alaska, in a January 21, 2014 Federal Register Notice.

Report Information

The Bristol Bay watershed in southwestern Alaska supports the largest sockeye salmon fishery in the world, is home to 25 federally recognized tribal governments, and contains large mineral resources. The potential for large-scale mining activities in the watershed has raised concerns about the impact of mining on the sustainability of Bristol Bay’s world-class commercial, recreational and subsistence fisheries and the future of Alaska Native tribes in the watershed who have maintained a salmon-based culture and subsistence-based way of life for at least 4,000 years. The purpose of this assessment is to provide a characterization of the biological and mineral resources of the Bristol Bay watershed, increase understanding of the potential impacts of large-scale mining on the region’s fish resources, and inform future government decisions related to protecting and maintaining the chemical, physical, and biological integrity of the watershed. It will also serve as a technical resource for the public, tribes, and governments who must consider how best to address the challenges of mining and ecological protection in the Bristol Bay watershed.

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Judy Smith
  • by phone at:   503-326-6994
  • by email at:  smith.judy@epa.gov

Background

Cover of volume 1 of  the Bristol Bay, Alaska Final Assessment Report The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) launched this assessment to better understand the Bristol Bay watershed and its resources. The assessment reviews, analyzes, and synthesizes information relevant to potential impacts of large-scale mine development on Bristol Bay fisheries and consequent effects on wildlife and Alaska Native cultures in the region. As a scientific assessment, it does not discuss or recommend policy, legal, or regulatory decisions, nor does it outline or analyze options for future decisions. EPA will use the assessment to inform future decision making.

History/Chronology

Feb 2011EPA launches the Bristol Bay Assessment.
Aug 2011Draft assessment approach and conceptual models presented to Intergovernmental Technical Team.
Feb 2012EPA invited the public to nominate qualified experts to be considered for the external peer review panel. [Federal Register Notice Feb 24, 2012] and [Federal Register Notice Mar 8, 2012]
May 2012On May 18, EPA announced the release of the draft report, An Assessment of Potential Mining Impacts on Salmon Ecosystems of Bristol Bay, Alaska, (EPA 910-R-12-004a-d) (Press Release May 18, 2012) for public review and comment. [Federal Register May 25, 2012]
Jun 2012EPA announced 12 independent peer reviewers to review the draft Bristol Bay Assessment. In addition, EPA released the draft charge questions to help guide peer review of the assessment. The public had an opportunity to comment on these draft charge questions during a public comment period, which began on June 5 and ended on June 26, 2012. [Federal Register Notice Jun 5, 2012]
Jul 2012EPA announced the external peer review meeting for the review the draft report that would be open to the public. [Federal Register Notice Jul 6, 2012]
Aug 2012EPA’s peer review contractor convened the 12 peer reviewers for an independent expert external peer review meeting on August 7-9, 2012 in Anchorage, Alaska, to review the draft report entitled An Assessment of Potential Mining Impacts on Salmon Ecosystems of Bristol Bay, Alaska.
Nov 2012EPA released the final peer review report from the independent expert external peer review of the draft assessment.
Apr 2013EPA released the second external review draft of An Assessment of Potential Mining Impacts on Salmon Ecosystems of Bristol Bay, Alaska (EPA 910-R-12-004Ba-c) for public review and comment. [Federal Register Notice Apr 30, 2013]
May 2013EPA extended the public comment period for the revised Bristol Bay Assessment an additional 30 days, to end on June 30, 2013. [Federal Register Notice Jun 6, 2013]
Jan 2014On January 15, 2014, EPA released the final report entitled An Assessment of Potential Mining Impacts on Salmon Ecosystems of Bristol Bay, Alaska (EPA 910-R-14-001A-C,ES) and EPA's Response to Peer Review Comments document. [Federal Register Notice Jan 21, 2014]
Jan 2014EPA released two new documents related to the peer review of the Bristol Bay Assessment (BBA). The first document, EPA’s Response to Peer Review Comments document, presents an overview of the BBA’s peer review process; all of the peer reviewers’ comments on both the May 2012 and April 2013 drafts of the assessment; and EPA’s responses to the peer reviewers’ comments. The second document, Peer Review Follow-on Comments on the April 2013 Draft Bristol Bay Assessment, presents the follow-on reviews EPA received from the 12 independent expert peer reviewers. These follow-on reviews address whether each reviewer felt the April 2013 draft of the BBA was responsive to their comments on the May 2012 draft.
Mar 2014EPA released two new documents related to comments received from the public on the review of the Bristol Bay Assessment (BBA). The first document, EPA’s Response to Public Comments document (Apr 2013 BBA Draft), presents EPA's response on the public comments from the April 2013 draft, the second document contains the comments received from the May 2012 draft of the assessment.

Additional Information

Note on PRINTING: To print these files, we recommend that you save the larger files (particularly the full volumes) to your computer for printing rather than printing from the web site. Some of the chapters contain oversize pages. If you do not have access to a printer that can print 11 x 17 pages, please be sure to set page scaling to “shrink to printable area” or “fit to printable area” when printing, which will allow all pages to print on 8.5 x 11 pages. If you have access to a printer that can print 11 x 17 pages, select “choose paper source by PDF page size”, which will allow oversize pages to print at full size.

Citation

U.S. EPA. An Assessment of Potential Mining Impacts on Salmon Ecosystems of Bristol Bay, Alaska (Final Report). U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Washington, DC, EPA 910-R-14-001A-C, ES, 2014.

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