For Immediate Release: August 29th, 2022
Contact: Natalie Dawson, 907-227-3407, firstname.lastname@example.org
Chilkat Indian Village (Klukwan) requests formal review of a state wastewater permit for advanced mineral exploration at the Constantine Palmer Project
Klukwan, AK – On August 24th, the Chilkat Indian Village (Tlákw Aan – Klukwan) filed a request for an adjudicatory hearing with the State of Alaska over a state wastewater permit that threatens subsistence fishing grounds, natural habitat and a critical salmon watershed in Southeast Alaska.
Constantine Mining LLC plans to start underground mineral exploration at the head of Glacier Creek, a tributary of the Klehini River within Jilḵáat Aani Ḵa Héeni. The project will pile waste rock and discharge wastewater into the ground near the creek, but Constantine claims there will be no impact on water quality. Chilkat Indian Village Tribal President Kimberly Strong responds, “Protecting the pristine quality of the Chilkat River watershed is our responsibility and enshrined in our Tribal Constitution. Our government will continue to carry out our duty to ensure a system built to discharge mine wastewater and waste rock does not contaminate the pristine quality of the Chilkat River Watershed.”
The state of Alaska approved the wastewater discharge system in May of 2022 without adhering to requests from CIV to notify the tribe of agency decisions. The Tribe has been in government to government consultation with DEC and the EPA regarding this permit since 2019. CIV continues to request that the DEC respond to reasonable concerns outlined by the tribe. They also request that the EPA verify that the treatment system is built to withstand site conditions and confirm through independent review that pollutants will not reach surface waters. “We have lived here since time immemorial. Geologic and hydrologic hazards are significant on Klukwan lands. The State of Alaska has made a commitment to recognize tribal sovereignty. We would like DEC to address our concerns prior to approving this permit. This is not an unreasonable request,” says Vice President Jones P. Hotch Jr.
The Glacier Creek watershed is just west of the Denali fault and is prone to earthquakes. Extreme precipitation events and temperatures combined with the steep terrain make the watershed prone to avalanches, landslides and flooding. The state of Alaska and the mining company have also failed to account for the cultural importance of the region to Chilkat Indian Village (Klukwan). “Glacier Creek and the adjacent areas are Sacred Sites. It is an integral junction to the trade routes that we have owned and used for many years” says Vice President Jones P. Hotch Jr.
Chilkat Indian Village (Klukwan) is a federally recognized tribal government whose traditional territory encompasses Jilḵáat Aani Ḵa Héeni (Chilkat River Watershed).