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Red Dog mine toxic tailings to Kotzebue and Kivalina, Alaska, USA

Red Dog Mine belonging to the Teck corporation released millions of pounds of toxic chemicals, and residents in native villages of Kotzeube and Kivalina have been contaminated.


Red Dog Mine is one of the world’s largest zinc and lead mines, located about 170 kilometres north of the Arctic Circle in northwest Alaska, near Kotzebue. The mine opened in 1989 and it is still operating, under an operating agreement between NANA, the land owner or the Alaska Native Regional Corp, and the mine operator -- Teck Resources Ltd [1] [2] [4]. 

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Basic Data
Name of conflict:Red Dog mine toxic tailings to Kotzebue and Kivalina, Alaska, USA
Country:United States of America
State or province:Alaska
Location of conflict:Northwest Arctic Borough
Accuracy of locationHIGH (Local level)
Source of Conflict
Type of conflict. 1st level:Mineral Ores and Building Materials Extraction
Type of conflict. 2nd level:Tailings from mines
Specific commodities:Zinc
Project Details and Actors
Project details

Opened in 1989, the Red Dog mine, is operated by Teck, a British Columbia-based metals and mining company. Teck operates copper and zinc mines in South America, coal mines in western Canada, and is aiming to develop a massive oil sands mine in the tar sands region of Alberta.

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Type of populationRural
Affected Population:3,266 Kotzebue + 382 Kivalina= 3,648
Start of the conflict:01/01/2004
Company names or state enterprises:Teck (Teck) from Canada - Investor and the Red Dog mine owner
Relevant government actors:Kotzebue City Manager
Environmental justice organizations (and other supporters) and their websites, if available:- Alaska Community Action on Toxics
- Health environmental sciences, Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York City
Conflict & Mobilization
IntensityMEDIUM (street protests, visible mobilization)
Reaction stageMobilization for reparations once impacts have been felt
Groups mobilizing:Indigenous groups or traditional communities
Local ejos
Local scientists/professionals
Forms of mobilization:Lawsuits, court cases, judicial activism
Environmental ImpactsVisible: Waste overflow, Air pollution, Loss of landscape/aesthetic degradation, Soil contamination, Surface water pollution / Decreasing water (physico-chemical, biological) quality, Groundwater pollution or depletion, Mine tailing spills
Potential: Food insecurity (crop damage), Reduced ecological / hydrological connectivity, Biodiversity loss (wildlife, agro-diversity), Soil erosion
Health ImpactsVisible: Exposure to unknown or uncertain complex risks (radiation, etc…), Occupational disease and accidents, Other environmental related diseases
Potential: Accidents, Deaths
Socio-economical ImpactsVisible: Lack of work security, labour absenteeism, firings, unemployment, Loss of livelihood, Loss of traditional knowledge/practices/cultures, Violations of human rights, Loss of landscape/sense of place
Potential: Displacement, Land dispossession
Project StatusIn operation
Conflict outcome / response:Compensation
Environmental improvements, rehabilitation/restoration of area
Court decision (victory for environmental justice)
Technical solutions to improve resource supply/quality/distribution
New Environmental Impact Assessment/Study
Development of alternatives:Compensations for water pollution have been paid by the company ruled by the court.
Do you consider this an environmental justice success? Was environmental justice served?:No
Briefly explain:Although the environmental violations have been acknowledged and compensations have been paid, the mine continues in operation and contaminating all the surrounding environment and native villages through an enormous degree of toxic mine tailings.
Sources & Materials
Related laws and legislations - Juridical texts related to the conflict

[6]Department of Law. The United States Supreme Court. Rules Against Alaska in Red Dog Mine Case
[click to view]

References to published books, academic articles, movies or published documentaries

[3] Peter N. Neitlich ,Jay M. Ver Hoef,Shanti D. Berryman,Anaka Mines,Linda H. Geiser,Linda M. Hasselbach,Alyssa E. Shiel (2017).Trends in spatial patterns of heavy metal deposition on national park service lands along the Red Dog Mine haul road, Alaska, 2001–2006. PloS ONE 12(5).
[click to view]

Links to general newspaper articles, blogs or other websites

[2] Migliaccio & Rathod LLP Lawyers is investigation: Red Dog Mine Pollution Class Action Investigation
[click to view]

[1] National Geographics 2018: America's Most 'Toxics-Releasing' Facility Is Not Where You'd Think
[click to view]

[4] NANA business: Natural Resources, Red Dog Mine
[click to view]

[5] Arctic Today 2018: Alaska’s Red Dog Mine plans expansion into new territory
[click to view]

[8] Reuters 2008: Zinc producer settles suit over Alaskan mine waste
[click to view]

Other documents

the Red Dog Mine Source: Arctic today
[click to view]

Red Dog Mine Source: Ground Truth Tracking
[click to view]

Meta information
Contributor:ENVJUST Arctic Project (KH and JMA)
Last update23/01/2020
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