Salmon Beyond Borders To Potus: Uphold U.S.-Canada Boundary Waters Treaty For SE Rivers

The following press release is courtesy of Salmon Beyond Borders:

Transboundary U.S./B.C. river gets International Joint Commission reference — Salmon Beyond Borders statement:

JUNEAU, ALASKA— Following is a statement from Salmon Beyond Borders Director Breanna Walker on today’s announcement of the reference of the transboundary United States-British Columbia, Canada Elk-Kootenai River to the International Joint Commission.

“British Columbia, Canada’s pollution-prone mining practices threaten the clean water, food security, and economy of every U.S. state unfortunate enough to be located downstream. We’re thrilled that, with the reference of the Elk-Kootenai River to the International Joint Commission, the ongoing contamination of the transboundary Canada-Montana Elk-Kootenai is finally on the path to being addressed. We urge the Biden Administration to heed the calls of virtually every Southeast Alaska municipality, multiple Southeast Alaska Tribes, thousands of Alaskans and tens of thousands of Americans and also uphold the U.S.-Canada Boundary Waters Treaty for the transboundary Taku, Stikine, and Unuk rivers flowing from British Columbia into Alaska. Enforceable protections established by impacted communities and Tribes need to be in place for these glacial salmon rivers before our fish and birds begin suffering deformities, too,” said Salmon Beyond Borders Director Breanna Walker.

recent Environmental Investigation Agency report showed Canada is incentivizing more than 100 proposed or operating mines and mine waste dams in the transboundary river systems shared by Canada and Alaska. One abandoned Canadian mine, the Tulsequah Chief, has been contaminating the transboundary Taku River system with acid mine drainage for almost 70 years, despite repeated promises from Canadians they will clean it up. The Tulsequah Chief’s historical owner is Teck Resources, which until recently owned the coal mines responsible for the serious contamination of the Elk-Kootenai river system.

For years, the Alaska congressional delegation has called for binding protections for shared transboundary rivers, and Senator Lisa Murkowski sent a recent letter to President Biden urging the U.S. to pause support for Canadian mines until an international framework is established for Canada-Alaska transboundary rivers. Southeast Alaska municipalities and Tribes are calling for an immediate and temporary pause on Canadian mining activity along shared rivers, and a permanent ban on its failure-prone mine waste dams.

Images of mining and contamination in the transboundary Canada-Alaska region are available for media use here.

Salmon Beyond Borders is an Alaska-based campaign working with fishermen, business owners, community leaders, and concerned citizens, alongside Tribes and First Nations on both sides of the Alaska-B.C. border, to defend and sustain our transboundary wild salmon rivers, jobs, and way of life.