The following editorial was written by Mr. Greg Zimmerman of Fairbanks, Alaska and published in the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner on April 29, 2023. It is posted here with his permission.
To the editor: I have been following the discussion on the virtues of the Kinross trucking proposal. Most responses have been against the proposal and the few in favor mostly cite jobs and the view that it will not be that bad.
In reading these disputes it would seem the decision to proceed with the haul has pretty much been based on the premise that it is “legal.” No, it may not be environmentally sound, nor ethically sound, nor in the interest of public safety. But it is “legal” because the law does not say that this type of truck cannot be on our roads for the transport of tailings. Neither, do I believe, is there anything in the law that says that they can, but more importantly there is nothing in the law that says they can’t.
I feel that when the rules and laws were first drawn up the possibility of using Alaska’s highways for the long distance hauling of tailings was not part of the discussion. If it was, I don’t believe that the type, size and weight of the proposed trucks, which were not even in existence at the time these laws were set up, was considered. Perhaps it is time to review and update those laws. I have also noted that almost all of the proponents of the project seem to be those who stand to profit from the project and will not personally be negatively impacted by the hauling. To assume that these large trucks can operate for five plus years, travel hundreds of thousands of miles, and not have any incidents is total malarkey.
Burning 100 gallons of diesel per trip will not help Alaska’s air quality. Hundred of thousands of additional miles of heavy-weight use will not improve the conditions our roads. Accidents we don’t need will be the result of “road conditions, weather conditions,” “poor judgement, “sleep deprivation,” “operator error, “the other guy,” and all the rest. The hauls will bring hundreds of thousands of tons of tailings up to Fairbanks from the mine. Each truck will carry a few ounces of gold. How big a pile of waste will this generate over five-plus years of trucks, truck after truck every 15 minutes?
How much land will be covered by this waste? I assume the trucks will be returning to the mine empty. Why not haul that waste back to the mine? I know of a lot of empty trucks that will be heading that way. I have also heard that the public will be only minimally impacted by the number and size of the trucks so I would like to request that Kinross give us a demonstration of what it is like to have a 95 foot dump pass by us every 7 1/2 minutes. I propose that they show Fairbanks just how much it will not impact us in our lives. At this year’s Golden Days Parade they should proudly start the parade with a truck of near equal size and then every 7 1/2 minutes parade through with another one, and 7 1/2 minutes later another until the parade ends. I know it will not be long enough for Kinross to show its real impact, but it will demonstrate in more of a real fashion what we can expect when it comes to pass. Remember… it is “legal” and maybe just a bit “political.”