Wishbone Hill Coal Mine Draft Health Impact Assessment

The Draft Wishbone Hill HIA is available online to the public at http://www.epi.alaska.gov/hia/.
According to the Alaska DHSS Public Notice:
“Comments may be submitted in any format, but the HIA Program will only consider appropriately referenced comments using the spreadsheet provided.” ACAT will compile comments sent through our form below into the proper format. Deadline was: June 14, 2012

Here is an example of “appropriately referenced comments”.

We strongly recommend that you send in comments using this spreadsheet from your own email, but if you do not have access to MS Excel, are using a Mac, or are concerned about formatting, please fill out the form below. Your comments will go directly to the DHSS from your email, and ACAT will send a copy of your comments in an Excel spreadsheet to DHSS.

For more information, contact Heidi at akaction dot org, or (907) 222-7714.

Sample Comment:

Document Name Draft Wishbone Hill HIA
Section 1.0 Introduction
Sub-Section Comprehensive HIA
Page Page 3
Comment “The hallmark of a comprehensive HIA is collection of new data, to address critical data gaps identified during the scoping process…A comprehensive HIA may be appropriate for projects that involve: … Major disruption of subsistence practices; Major impacts to key social determinants of health; and information gaps related to a well-known aspect of a project.(WBH HIA pg 3)” Based on these criteria, a comprehensive HIA should be done for the Wishbone Hill coal mine before any mining activity is permitted. Critical data gaps for this mine include: inadequate baseline water quality, inadequate groundwater and aquifer mapping, unknown risk of surface and groundwater contamination, lack of noise studies, lack of light /visual effects studies, lack of information on physical effects of blasting, unknown risk of air pollution by both diesel exhaust and particulate matter (PM2.5), and inadequate data on the risk of accidents from coal transportation. Numerous people in Chickaloon Village have described the subsistence and other traditional practices that would be disrupted by this mine. Key social determinants of health, such as psychological distress and community conflict are already well-known problems related to the proposed mine, and these will worsen significantly if the mine is developed.

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Document Name Draft Wishbone Hill HIA 
Section 7.0 Prioritizing Health Effect Categories
Sub-Section Exposure to Potentially Hazardous Materials Potential Impact
Page Page 119
Comment Damage to houses from blasting should be included in the list of potential impacts. Broken windows in the winter could cause frozen pipes and could cause significant property damage, including rendering a house uninhabitable within hours. Usibelli representatives have stated publicly that the blasting will likely break windows, so even the mining company admits that this is a plausible scenario. Mitigation should include a requirement that Usibelli set up a fund for reimbursing local residents for all repair costs, lodging and food for residents displaced from their homes, and compensation for stress. Even with this mitigation, dozens of people living near the mine will still bear the burden of mental and physical health problems known to be caused by stress and anxiety.

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