On January 28, the Bristol Bay region in Alaska was awoken by a 3.6 magnitude earthquake.
Now Alaska is no stranger to activity from the Ring of Fire, a major area in the basin of the Pacific Ocean where many earthquakes and volcanic eruptions occur. But recently the rate at which earthquakes and volcanic activity are occurring has increased. According to the Alaska Earthquake Center, 2018 and 2019 took first and second place for the most earthquakes recorded in the state: “With a total of 50,289 reported earthquakes, 2019 finished as a runner up to the record-breaking 2018. The earthquake depths ranged between zero and 165 miles.”
In 2018, a 7.1 magnitude quake hit Anchorage and aftershocks lasted for hours after. Now while most Alaskan buildings are designed and built to handle these unstable conditions, activists and local Alaskans are concerned that the proposed Pebble Mine, is not designed with enough forethought to handle large quakes.
According to the plans for the mine, a 500-foot tailing dam is planned to be built, upstream of the world’s most productive sockeye salmon stream.
The Army Corp of Engineers released a draft Environmental Impact Study (EIS) for public comment, that was met with an incredibly high amount of criticism. What’s truly interesting is that according to a Corps leader the final environmental impact statement it releases on the proposed mine plan would “not include an analysis of the impacts of a tailings dam failure.”
Meaning that, the EIS has no provisions in it as to what will happen to the local ecosystem and communities should an earthquake, or other natural disasters cause the dam to fail.
To delve deeper into the issue, read this article from National Fisherman!