Chuitna Coal Strip Mine

The Chuitna River lies 45 miles west of Anchorage on the west side of Cook Inlet. Below the watershed lie seams of sub-bituminous coal that have caught the eye of PacRim Coal, LLC which is proposing a giant strip mine – the largest in Alaska.

PacRim’s proposed coal strip mine  will mine directly through 11 miles of productive salmon streams -  destroying them. The proposed strip mine will dump 7 million gallons of toxic mine waste in to Cook Inlet each day. The extracted coal will be shipped to Asia where the emissions of Asian coal-fired plants will eventually work back to Alaska poisoning our air and fish.

Map of Proposed Chuitna Stripmine Location

Proposed Chuitna Stripmine Location

The Chuit River–featured on American Rivers’ Most Endangered Rivers List in 2007– is a clear running river flowing from the base of the Alaska Range into Cook Inlet. The Chuitna is one of Alaska’s most productive fishing grounds. The Chuitna watershed, a relatively untouched wilderness, is home to all 5 species of wild Pacific salmon, rainbow trout, moose, brown and black bears, wolves, beavers and supports countless Alaskans through sport, commercial and subsistence fishing, hunting and tourism.

Wild Salmon at Risk

Three scientific reports – based on analysis of documents and reports submitted by PacRim Coal – conclude that mining through 11 miles of salmon-bearing streams would irreversibly damage local wetlands, headwater streams and the salmon they support.

The reports found:

  • There are no examples of successful stream restorations after strip-mining salmon habitat.
  • Restoration of the fragile and valuable wetlands and streams that feed the salmon rich Chuitna River is virtually impossible.
  • PacRim has supplied no data on local food webs, and only a few years of data on salmon populations which fluctuate dramatically over decades-long cycles.

Threatening Alaskan Lifestyles

Beluga and Tyonek, on the western shore of Cook Inlet, are the two communities closest to the proposed mine site.  The residents rely upon the watershed for quality-of-life and as a major source of food.

The Chuitna River

The Chuitna River

“We’re trying to protect our homes, our lifestyles, and the fish and game resources that we depend on. The vast majority of the residents of Beluga and Tyonek oppose a coal strip mine; it will destroy our way of life. We depend on intact habitats for clean water, healthy salmon, and the important hunting and subsistence opportunities that sustain us.”
- Judy Heilman

Jeopardizing the local economy

Cook Inlet’s sport, commercial, and subsistence fisheries all play a vital role in promoting a healthy Alaska economy, supplying thousands of jobs and pumping millions into local communities.

  • Sport fishing generates more than $800 million annually in economic output and supports over 8,000 jobs in Cook Inlet.
  • Commercial fishing contributes nearly $100 million to the Cook Inlet economy annually and employs more than 1,000 people.

Destroying a wild Alaskan salmon stream to ship coal to Asia is short sighted and irresponsible.

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