The Passamaquoddy Tribe at Sipayik (Tribe) stands in firm opposition to the efforts by Wolfden Resources (Wolfden), a Canadian mining company, to conduct metallic mining near Cobscook Bay and a precious underground aquifer in the Town of Pembroke. The Passamaquoddy People have relied upon the ecosystems and water sources threatened by Wolfden since time immemorial. Now, a foreign corporation that has continually failed to meet regulatory requirements intended to protect the environment and public health is imperiling these resources through ongoing exploratory activities aimed at exploiting a silver deposit directly above an aquifer.
Wolfden is currently engaged in exploratory mining activities on a parcel of land in the Town of Pembroke. Maine law prohibits such activities unless the State of Maine Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) first receives a work plan that details the specific drilling area, the amount of materials to be removed from the site, and the potential for impact on protected natural resources, among other requirements.
A review of the publicly available work plan submitted by Wolfden to DEP shows that Wolfden has failed to provide this legally required information. In fact, Wolfden’s work plan is devoid of any detailed information related to where Wolfden is going to drill, what materials it intends to remove, and whether such activities will affect any of the numerous precious water resources in the general vicinity of the work site. Compounding this problem is the fact that the proposed mining area overlaps with an aquifer considered one of the best sources of underground water in this part of Washington County. Polluted water from the proposed mine could also flow into Cobscook Bay thereby damaging the fragile marine ecosystem that provides so much for so many residents of this area.
Much of rural Maine suffers from poor quality drinking water and this part of Washington County is no different. In fact, the municipal water received by Sipayik residents is regularly discolored and reeking at certain times of year. A federally funded feasibility study from the 2010s showed that the Pembroke aquifer could provide a long-term alternate supply for the beleaguered customers of the local water district. That possibility is now at risk because of the noncompliant activities of a mining company that has already had to withdraw one metallic mining plan in Maine due to myriad problems with regulatory submissions.
The public benefits that would flow from the Wolfden Pembroke mine are hard to see yet the risks to the public are obvious and immense. Wolfden’s activities in Pembroke must halt before any irreversible harm befalls the environment or public health.
—by Chief Maggie Dana
(Reprinted by the Natural Resources Council of Maine with permission from the Passamoquoddy Tribe at Sipayik)
Banner photo: Cobscook Bay by Allison Wells
Pam Kristan says
Water is life as we learn anew every day.
paul letourneau says
When is the Maine legislature going to enact a permanent ban on ANY mining activities? Put it to a referendum and let the people speak!