Northern Dynasty retains senior US political and scientific representatives
August 7, 2012, Vancouver, BC – On behalf of Northern Dynasty Minerals Ltd. ("Northern Dynasty" or the "Company") (TSX: NDM; NYSE MKT: NAK) and its shareholders, prominent Washington DC-based regulatory lawyer Thomas Collier and National Academy of Engineering member Dr. Michael Kavanaugh delivered testimony today in Anchorage, Alaska to the external peer review panel that is evaluating the US Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) draft Bristol Bay Watershed Assessment (BBWA) report.
Collier, retained as counsel to Northern Dynasty, has extensive experience managing major scientific studies on complex environmental and policy issues for the United States government under the Clinton Administration. He served as both Chief of Staff and Chief Operating Officer of the Department of Interior. In direct and hard-hitting testimony, Collier outlined the inappropriate timing and rushed nature of the draft BBWA report. “At Interior, I supervised extensive scientific reviews similar to this watershed assessment,” Collier said. “All of those science-based reviews withstood fierce attacks in the court. But, I must tell you, during my days at Interior, I would not have let this assessment out the door.
Calling the draft BBWA report deeply flawed, Collier said EPA should suspend the watershed assessment process until the Pebble Limited Partnership (“Pebble Partnership” or “PLP”) completes a proposed development plan for the Pebble Project and applies for federal and state permits under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). “I see no policy reasons or scientific basis for beginning this study without an important prerequisite – a mine plan – and for rushing it to conclusion. I do see, however, a possible political explanation. Could EPA be rushing to complete an assessment that could be used as a basis for a 404c veto of Pebble in the event President Obama is not re-elected and a new Administration takes office?”
Dr. Michael Kavanaugh is a registered professional engineer with 38 years of experience in water quality and groundwater restoration, including projects in Alaska. In 1998, he was elected to the National Academy of Engineering, where he currently serves on the Academy’s Report Review Committee, which oversees more than 200 peer review processes for National Academy studies each year.
Having completed an independent review of the draft BBWA report, Kavanaugh found the EPA study fails to meet the federal agency’s own guidelines for ecological risk assessments or even generally accepted quality standards for scientific and technical studies. Kavanaugh also said the “hypothetical mine scenario” evaluated by EPA within its watershed study could never be permitted under existing federal and state laws. “By failing to consider modern engineered mitigation methods that would be required for an acceptable permit application, the report presents a biased and inaccurate assessment of the potential impacts of the Pebble Project.
Some examples of our findings include:
- erroneous assumptions based on literature data not relevant to a modern mining scenario, such as culvert failure statistics developed from culverts that were never permitted in the first place;
- inaccurate calculations that significantly overestimate consequences of those hypothetical system failures, such as using inappropriate geometry in a dam breach analysis, that over predicts velocity and distance of sediment transport; and
- general lack of any attention to mitigation measures for all engineered systems which would be designed with appropriate safety factors, be accepted by regulators, and be designed to minimize the consequences of unlikely failure events, such as placing pipeline shutoff valves immediately before stream crossings instead of 14 km away, thereby limiting the amount of material that would escape if there were a failure.”
Sean Magee, Northern Dynasty’s Vice President of Public Affairs, also offered testimony, summarizing the 635-page critique of the draft BBWA report that Northern Dynasty submitted last month. Magee called upon peer reviewers to demand that EPA slow down the watershed assessment process, and complete a thorough and comprehensive study after the Pebble Partnership has completed its studies and filed for federal and state permits under NEPA.
“Our investors, some three-quarters of whom are American, have invested significantly in Northern Dynasty because they believe in responsible resource development in the United States,” Magee said. “They believe the US is a stable and fair jurisdiction in which to invest, and that the United States should develop her mineral resources to build the US economy and to provide domestic sources of strategic minerals – like copper.
“Our investors also know that mineral development is a speculative business and that the money they invest in a company like Northern Dynasty doesn’t necessarily mean that a project like Pebble will ultimately be built. But they do expect that the $500 million invested in good faith in geological, engineering, environmental and socioeconomic studies will ultimately be reviewed through a comprehensive federal and state permitting process under NEPA.”
Magee noted that the Pebble Project is the most important undeveloped mineral resource in the United States, and that the lands surrounding Pebble are acknowledged by the US Geological Survey as the most extensively mineralized area in the world.
“The Pebble Project and the Pebble lands represent too important a resource for the region, the state and the nation to have their fate decided by a premature, rushed and scientifically flawed study.”
To view the complete text from testimonies offered on behalf of Northern Dynasty at today’s hearing, or the critique of the draft Bristol Bay Watershed Assessment report, visit our website at www.northerndynasty.com.