June 28, 2012, Vancouver, BC -- Northern Dynasty Minerals Ltd. ("Northern Dynasty" or the "Company") (TSX: NDM; NYSE Amex: NAK) has responded to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) call for public comment on the draft charge it has provided to peer reviewers assembled to assess the quality and sufficiency of scientific information presented in the federal agency’s recently published draft Bristol Bay Watershed Assessment (BBWA) report – entitled An Assessment of Potential Mining Impacts on Salmon Ecosystems of Bristol Bay, Alaska.
In its June 26, 2012 submission, Northern Dynasty said the EPA’s draft charge to peer reviewers is artificially narrow and will prohibit the 12 independent experts from fully assessing whether the scope, methodology, underlying assumptions, data sources and analysis presented in the draft report are adequate to achieve the BBWA’s stated purpose. The draft charge even prohibits peer reviewers from commenting on certain findings in the report by providing a series of restrictive questions that EPA asserts are “designed to focus reviewers on specific aspects of the report.”
“While officials from the EPA Region 10 office in Seattle have regularly claimed that the Bristol Bay Watershed Assessment is not ‘about the Pebble Project’, any serious or casual reader of the report or the voluminous media coverage it has generated will know this is patently untrue,” said Northern Dynasty President & CEO Ron Thiessen. “We should all be very clear – this report is seeking to pass judgment on the development potential of America’s single greatest resource of copper, gold and molybdenum before any mine plan has been prepared or any permit application filed.
“It is Northern Dynasty’s view that EPA Region 10’s draft BBWA is a fundamentally flawed document that is premature, rushed, omits key sources of scientific data, incorporates out of date and inapplicable information, and distorts other data to arrive at conclusions that are simply not supported in science. When you consider the global significance of the mineral resource at question here, and its strategic and economic value to the nation and the State of Alaska, it is absolutely unconscionable that EPA would continue to rush this process to meet a politically inspired deadline, and to restrict the ability of independent expert scientists to conduct a full and thorough review.”
Thiessen called on EPA Region 10 to substantially expand the mandate provided to the 12 peer reviewers assembled to assess the draft Bristol Bay Watershed Assessment report published May 18, 2012, and to extend the timeframe provided for their work. He noted that EPA Region 10 has designed the BBWA process so that the public comment and peer review periods overlap, such that peer reviewers are unlikely to have a full opportunity to review and consider concerns raised by Pebble Project proponents, Alaska Native groups, the State of Alaska or others.
“Perhaps the most troubling aspect of EPA Region 10’s actions with regard to the Bristol Bay Watershed Assessment is its insistence that the process must be complete before Americans go to the polls in November,” Thiessen said. “What is the rationale for that deadline? What is the rush? Why is this assessment being conducted before a detailed mine proposal has been presented? Why have critical data sources been overlooked? Why has the EPA not conducted any field investigations to inform its science? Why is the peer review process overlapping public review?
“Our concern is that the premature, rushed and under-informed nature of this investigation will lead to a scientifically indefensible outcome. Pebble is simply too important a resource to be subject to the whims of political rather than objective, science-based decision-making.”