The following is reprinted with permission of the author, Mr. David Cornberg.
When representatives of AKDOT and Kinross presented the Manh Choh ore haul proposal at Pioneer Park in Fairbanks, the sole justification was that the proposal was legal. No one from AKDOT said that there are clearly health and safety issues around this proposal that need careful, impartial analysis but it is legal. When I heard both state and corporate spokespeople using the same single justification, I asked myself, Who is AKDOT working for—local Alaska residents or a foreign mining company?
It is legal for a person of age to buy bottles of alcohol and drink day and night. Is it safe? It is legal for a person of age to buy tobacco products and use them day and night. Is it safe? It is legal for a child to take a gas cap off a vehicle and sniff the fumes day and night. Is it safe?
Are you a local resident who is frightened by and angry about the ore haul proposal? Are you parents whose children ride school buses on the route and who have been told either nothing about the proposal or that it poses no danger to your children? Are you an employee or owner of one of Alaska’s reputable and reliable trucking businesses that turned down the Kinross contract but have not made public your opinions about its rationality and safety? Are you a member of one of the emergency service stations located from Steese to Tok who knows without a doubt that you are not prepared to either clear the road or extricate potential survivors after a double tandem truck jackknifes, overturns on a dark, wind-blown, black ice winter road and demolishes a school bus full of children but have not spoken up?
Are you an AKDOT employee who occasionally has to open one of the truck weigh stations on the proposed Tetlin-Fort Knox route, which are usually closed, and are now looking at 24/7 extra-heavy trucks every fifteen minutes? Are you a garage or gas station operator or employee who knows that hundreds of gallons of liquid toxic waste as well as hard toxic waste such as spent tires and broken parts are going to come out of and off the sixteen axle/50 tire trucks and, along with the rest of us, have seen no plan that guarantees safe disposal of these dangerous substances but have not voiced your concerns?
Are you a government employee who has been stopped from stopping the proposal by a governor and administration that values foreign gold profits more than Alaska resident safety and health? Are you a local resident already compromised by either air pollution or noise pollution or both who has not yet spoken up? Are you a local government official whose conscience says NO to the proposal but whose position depends on bringing money into the borough?
There are so many ways in which the Manh Choh ore haul proposal is WRONG, UNSAFE and UNHEALTHY, and there are so many of us, local Alaskan residents, who can give public voice against this insane trucking fantasy being promoted on us and against us from both inside and outside our own city, borough, state and country.