A new federal study says the state's largest mine likely caused reduced caribou and beluga harvests by nearby villagers.
he harvests in the subsistence-dependent village of Kivalina declined substantially after the Red Dog zinc and lead mine opened 20 years ago, the Environmental Protection Agency said in the draft report on the mine's impact on the environment.
For decades, Kivalina hunters have blamed the daily traffic on the 52-mile industrial road connecting the mine to its port, as well as ship traffic at the port, for changing animal migrations and causing hunting problems. The Chukchi Sea port lies 17 miles southeast of the village in Northwest Alaska.
In a section of the 650-page report, the EPA said it agrees with the villagers.
The report is out for public comment through next Tuesday and it is stirring up controversy. Its conclusions about the mine harming subsistence hunting are being questioned by mining officials, state biologists and NANA Regional Corp., the Native corporation that owns the land the mine sits on.
They say the biological data is sketchy and the decline in harvests could be caused by other factors.
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